Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Interested in Charlottevsille Swimming Pool Decisions? Read this!

Charlottesville municipal pool availability is changing in the near future. Smith Pool will apparently be closing and demolished soon, Crow Pool is likely to be closed in the not too distant future. Instead of repairing these neighborhood pools, the city is promoting constructing a centralized pool that will be run under contract by the YMCA. The recent debate on pool maintenance, demolition, replacement, and contracting has been lively and many members of the public have commented at city council meetings and by letter and email to council and staff regarding this issue.

I just today finished reading Contested Waters A Social History of Swimming Pools in America by Jeff Wiltse that explores the history of municipal swimming pools in the United States and how decisions like the one going on in Charlottesville has impacted communities and politics and interaction among community members. This was one of the books in this year's Virginia Festival of the Book in Charlottesville. I saw the session at which this book was discussed on our public access TV station (fortunately the session was in City Council Chambers and was recorded). The discussion inspired me to check-out the book from the Public Library (they own several copies). I recommend you read it if you have interest in social issues about race, gender, class, ethnicity, etc.

I won't provide you a review of the book here, but encourage you to Google 'contested waters' and read some of the online reviews. Yes, reading this book was an unexpected treat for me, and I may well see if I can check-out a copy of The Springboard in the Pond: An Intimate History of the Swimming Pool by Thomas A. P. van Leeuwen. This book is about domestic swimming pools, and apparently explores "the human relationship to water from a variety of viewpoints: social, religious, artistic, sexual, psychological, technical, and above all architectural." Perhaps this will be interesting pool-side reading. It is not in the Jefferson-Madison Library catalog, but perhaps I can get a copy at UVA or through inter-library loan. Or, perhaps you have a personal copy to lend me for a few weeks -- if so, let me know?

Charlottesville's outdoor pools open this weekend, and I have my punch-pass ready to go. Hopefully I won't be the only person reading this book at Washington Park or Meade Park pool this summer. See you there?

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

No small amount of irony that this book was discussed in council chambers !! Enjoy the last season at Meade Park's pool before the Big Dig begins in the park...

DaveNorris said...

Hi Peter, sounds like an interesting book. One point of clarification -- the City is rebuilding Smith Pool into a modern, new, more environmentally-friendly City-operated aquatic and wellness center that will last for decades, be less costly to maintain, and serve a broader range of citizens. That's in addition to the new YMCA aquatic and fitness facility in McIntire Park -- I don't think was clear in your post. Thanks as always for your efforts to keep residents informed! Dave Norris

Cathy said...

The existing pools and their structures are falling apart. I have never understood why folks in this city want to keep stuff just to keep it, even if it doesn't work anymore. I look forward to the new pool, and the YMCA knows how to manage this kind of thing. I think it's great. In Fredericksburg, the YMCA had two great indoor pools that were large, modern, and meticulously maintained. Charlottesville: Change is not always bad. Sometimes, they call it progres :)

Blair said...

Best feature of city (and county) parks is you can pay as you go. Big gyms require a membership so they can sue you if the economy requires you cut out gym membership. YMCA will discount the membership if you give them your personal financial information. Most private gyms limit day-passes as a way to make you join, even though the day-pass rate is more expensive than membership. (YMCA is a public gym because of its nonprofit status.) When the YMCA is built, we'll still have 2 public pools. But YMCA won't be open to the public. Restrictions at Smith pool will likely be tighter to discourage non-city residents from paying more to swim. I liked Crow pool but haven't been there in a year because of the irregular hours and general confusion.