Proposal to close pool stings black residents | May 20
Pool is amenity, not a business
At its meeting on May 19, the Council of Neighborhood Associations voted to oppose St. Petersburg's proposal to close pools and convert other pools to water parks at an $8 admission for 2 hours' use. Our concern is that for many low-income families and children in particular, access to pools at affordable fees is one of the few amenities available in the current severe recession, when many families have no or very little discretionary income. These facilities also serve as a means of preventing juvenile crime.
If some pools are underutilized, efforts should be made to increase utilization rather than close them. It is noted in this regard that according to statistics published in the Times, the Jennie Hall pool in Midtown increased its utilization in 2009 by 22 percent over the recent five-year average. These public pools should not be looked upon as business enterprises, but rather as part of our civic safety net and basic quality of life for residents.
There are no fees at all for many city recreational amenities — jogging trails, tennis courts, park picnic facilities, boat ramps, etc. Yet we do not refer to them as generating a deficit. They are public facilities. We pay for these through our taxes.
It would be helpful to residents and neighborhoods if all of the city's ideas for adjusting the budget could be made known at one time so that the public would be able to compare their relative importance, rather than looking at single proposals in isolation.
Also, before cutting services, especially those affecting lower income families, every effort should be made to reduce city overhead and administrative costs. We realize the mayor and the City Council are highly challenged to make a $12 million to $14 million adjustment in next year's budget and that this is not an easy task.
CONA is preparing a report recommending specific near- and long-term budget adjustment measures that will be presented to the city in the near future.
Will Michaels, president, Council of Neighborhood Associations (CONA), St. Petersburg
Proposal to close pool stings black residents | May 20
City service should not be racial issue
What about the residents in Shore Acres?
More people use that pool than the Jennie Hall pool. St. Petersburg's mayor needs to come up with a plan to cater to all races, in the neighborhoods affected, not just the blacks. The headline should have stated "Pool proposal stings all residents, not just blacks."
Are you guys trying to stir up trouble with racism? It's about the budget cuts, since our government can't balance a plate on their heads! Don't turn this into a racial issue when it's not. It hurts all the residents. Don't raise property taxes. Come up with a seasonal pass admission, or be a little creative to bring in money. Summer is nearly here, and the kids need to have fun, and be active.
Cheryl Thomas, St. Petersburg
Pool is essential to quality of life
I was dismayed to read that St. Petersburg's mayor wanted to close four pools (now it's down to two)! Talk about diminishing quality of life!
I swim at a city pool every other day when it's open. During scheduled lap swimming, two or three often share a lane because all the lanes are full, and lap swimming is limited to accommodate other activities.
The pool is packed all through the long, brutally hot summer with kids learning essential water safety and swimming skills. Summer camps bring hundreds of kids to the pool, as do swim meets and parties. Families enjoy the diving boards and the slides, but nothing-to-do-but-swim is the main activity!
Many people can't afford a pool and don't live on Brightwaters with a dock, or on the beach. We rely on the affordable city pools. The city should not be spending our tax dollars building fancy water parks. Nature parks, pools — these are simple "quality of life features that people actually use" and do not cost an arm and a leg to enjoy! Please keep the pools open "just for swimming."
Jean Hynes, St. Petersburg
Mayor's idea on pool use is good one
St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster deserves praise for his idea of allowing the public to show which pools should be kept open by their use. This is a great idea, because too often we complain about not having a service or freedom, but when it comes down to using it, we don't show our support by using it.
I think school superintendent Julie Janssen, on the other hand, does not have the answers, and even when one is thought to be found, the implementation of the plan is bungled.
J.R. Demmy, Kenneth City
Hospice deserves our gratitude
If ever there was an organization that could be described as "angels of mercy," it would certainly be the Hospice of the Florida Suncoast. I am sure that the work of this organization has been praised many times over. However, in my opinion, there can never be enough good said about them.
Recently my 98-year-old father passed away at home after suffering with kidney disease. My sister and I were able to keep him at home and care for him thanks to the help of the wonderful staff from the hospice organization. They were scheduled to come to the house several times a week to help with his care, but when additional care was needed, they would come immediately — day or night, weekday or weekends — for over a month before his passing.
All hospice personnel were extremely kind, caring and compassionate regardless of the time or the situation they found upon their arrival.
While so many of the letters written to the newspaper are so negative in nature (political or otherwise), I wanted to send a positive letter and thank this great organization for being there and for all its help at a time when it is so needed.
Our family is very grateful for the help and wishes to publicly thank the hospice personnel for all they do.
J.T. Morgan, St. Petersburg