Reinstate Outdoor Summer Swim Team in West Hartford

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We oppose the decision by West Hartford Leisure Services to replace the Beachland, Eisenhower, Fern and Kennedy Park outdoor summer swim teams with new Cornerstone Cyclones team. By moving swim team out of neighborhood parks and raising the price over 50%, this fun summer tradition will become inaccessible to many West Hartford families. We feel this will ultimately have a negative impact on our children and communities, so we are asking Leisure Services to reverse the decision, and reinstate outdoor swim team for the 2018 season.

1.  Cost Prohibitive

Low income families will be primarily affected by this change. At "only" $115 per swimmer, the Cyclones will cost 64% more than summer swim team did in 2017. The budget friendly price provided children without access to private swim programs the opportunity to participate and develop their skills for a low cost at their neighborhood pool. Families with multiple children may also be financially burdened by the increase in price. Equity and inclusiveness are emphasized in our public schools, but this change will make the opportunity gap for low income kids in West Hartford wider.

2. Transportation Issue

Families with limited access to transportation are also affected by the elimination of neighborhood swim team.  Children who normally walk to their neighborhood pool for swim team practice may not have reliable transportation to Cornerstone five days a week.

3. Difficult time frame for families

The Cornerstone Cyclones team flyer has listed separate practice times for different age groups, making it extremely inconvenient for working families, or those with multiple children. It is unrealistic to expect a family to make several trips to Cornerstone per day. 8 am and 4:45pm practice times are not logistically possible for those with standard work schedules, or for children enrolled in full day camp.  Families who rely on the convenience of outdoor parks, and being able to utilize the playground and splash pad will find it difficult to juggle the demands of younger siblings while waiting inside the Cornerstone facility.

4.Sense of community is lost

Our public parks are one of our town's greatest treasures; they are places for local families to gather and socialize, and are easily accessible to all town residents. When the four outdoor swim teams are combined and moved indoors to Cornerstone Aquatics Center, the feeling of neighborhood and community pride is lost. Our culturally diverse parks are a reflection of our town, a place where kids from different backgrounds have the opportunity to interact and become teammates, and develop a sense of neighborhood pride.

5. Indoor facility is not attractive during Summer

Children (and parents) are not excited about being inside an indoor pool for several hours during the summertime. Many families choose summer swim team because it enables children to be active and outdoors, while enjoying West Hartford's beautiful public parks.

6. Families want a non-competitive option

Cornerstone Cyclones will attract the same families who may otherwise be interested in more competitive, private teams. The outdoor pool teams were a perfect choice for families who are looking for a laid-back, non-competitive, cost-effective and enjoyable way to practice and cultivate swimming skills. They attracted children who would not otherwise be interested in trying a more "serious" swim team that competes against other towns.

7. Potential traffic issue

There may also be an increase in traffic on Buena Vista road during morning and afternoon practice times. Many families will find driving across town to Cornerstone during rush hour inconvenient and difficult.

We understand that the change in West Hartford's summer aquatics programming is in response to a Town Hall meeting and recent survey in which residents expressed their desire for more lap swim and free swim hours during the afternoons. While we are certain this change will benefit some West Hartford residents, it will do so at the expense of the many children and families who look forward to joining their neighborhood outdoor swim team every year, one of the best summer programs the town has offered. We believe the benefit of continuing the beloved tradition of children swimming outdoors in their neighborhood pools outweighs the potential problems. Please consider reinstating outdoor summer swim team in West Hartford.