Save the Pool
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June 14, 2020
Pleasantville Board of Trustees
80 Wheeler Avenue
Pleasantville, NY 10570
Dear Members of the Board of Trustees,
We write to express our deep concern about a vital community asset - the Pleasantville Swimming Pool – both in respect of the 2020 summer season and the future of this important village resource.
We believe the Board’s decision to keep the pool closed was made prematurely, and without appropriate consideration for the impact the closure would have on our community. In addition, we fear that the village is compounding this error by failing to adopt a clear plan for the maintenance/repair work that needs to be done on the pool to ensure that it can open for the 2021 summer season.
What does the pool mean for the members of this community? For many families, the pool is a highlight - if not the highlight - of summertime. The pool is the place where our young children learn water safety and become confident swimmers; where our teenagers have the opportunity to learn lifeguarding skills and work summer jobs; and where all residents can cool off while enjoying the outdoors during the long, hot days of summer. And in light of everything that is going on in our society, and all the challenges that America faces right now, the importance of community resources that are open to all residents and reasonably priced cannot be understated.
Many of the families signing this letter have children who swim (or have swam in the past) on the Pleasantville swim team, which practices and competes at the pool. The team has a long-standing tradition of community participation and competitive success. Last year, about 100 children swam on the team, and Pleasantville won the championship in Division II of the Northern Westchester Swim Conference. Our village is blessed with a number of very strong athletic programs, but the swim team is unique in that it is comprised of girls and boys ranging in age from 4 through 18, all on one team, supporting each other. For the parents, it is a wonderful thing to see the older teenagers cheering for the little ones; for most families, it is the only chance that siblings will ever have to be on the same team. Unlike many other athletic programs in town (e.g., travel or H.S. team sports), the swim team welcomes swimmers of all abilities, including swimmers with disabilities. All are embraced and encouraged to do their best; the children cheer as much for their teammates for whom just completing a race is an accomplishment, as for the stronger swimmers in tight races.
As of this writing, New York State has just recently confirmed that municipalities will be permitted to open public swimming pools. While specific COVID-19 related guidelines are yet to be issued, it appears that the state government made the decision - rightly, in our view - that the recreational benefits of outdoor settings such as pools outweigh any incremental risk of virus transmission. We recognize that the impact of these guidelines on the operation of the pool is unclear right now. What is clear, however, is that all of society has become accustomed to the “new normal” in recent months, and we are confident that the residents of our village could adapt and comply with whatever operational requirements are put in place.
Given the above, we urge the board to reconsider its decision to keep the pool closed during the 2020 summer season. We acknowledge that opening the pool will not be without its challenges, but we believe these challenges can be overcome. If the board would like assistance, a number of the members of the Swim Team Board would be more than willing to collaborate with the Parks and Recreation Department in working through these challenges.
Equally as important, however, we request that the village adopt a maintenance and repair plan to ensure that no future summer season is lost. To be clear, losing the pool for the 2020 season would be a hardship; albeit one that is at least understandable in the context of COVID-19. Keeping the pool closed this summer AND losing the pool for the 2021 or a later summer season while necessary repairs are completed would be unacceptable and represent a complete failure to properly manage this important community resource. If we must lose the pool for the 2020 summer as a result of COVID-19, we should take advantage of the opportunity that this closure provides to make the necessary repairs to the pool – in a comprehensive fashion, not the patch-work fixes that have been done in recent years – while it is closed.
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