Dwaine Caraway Isn't About to Let the City Close Pools, Especially Two In His District

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Mary Suhm was right about one thing: When I asked her Thursday where she saw the council pushing back on her proposed FY2011-12 budget, she said, well, probably pools -- specifically, her suggestion that the city shutter five of its 17 pools in the coming fiscal year. Those pools: Bonnie View, Exline, Glendale, H. R. Moore and Samuell-Grand. Two of them, Glendale and Bonnie View, are in Dwaine Caraway's district. Which is why he spent a good chunk of this morning's budget briefing lambasting Park and Rec head Paul Dyer for the Park Board's suggestion to close the pools.

"It was a very difficult decision ...," said Dyer.

"A difficult suggestion," Caraway interrupted him. "A suggestion."

Dyer said "it wasn't an easy choice," but "the fact is we were short on funding and tried to come up with the best options." Which meant shuttering five pools. It costs around $50,000 to $60,000 annually to fund each pool, Dyer said, and the Park Board decided that low attendance at those spots necessitated their closing. Caraway said: Not on his watch.

"I'll say this to the mayor first: I will not support closing any pool in the city of Dallas, but I will be the most unhappy council member the council has ever seen if we think we're going to close Glendale or Bonnie View," he said. "It is unacceptable, Mr Dyer. Whatever it is that has to be done to find the necessary dollars to maintain those pools open, then that is what I must and intend to see. It is record heat out here [and] we're closing pools? ... I don't want to see it."

What followed was an brief sneak peek about the future of Dallas's aquatic program. Because as far as Caraway's concerned, the city does a lousy job of promoting its pools to folks living in and around its cement ponds. Why, for instance, doesn't Park and Rec hold events at its pools: "Did we think out of the box and say, 'Let's do a midnight swim party at Glendale to bring up revenue' and get adults back involved at Exline?"

To which Dyer responded by insisting the city's "tried to increase pool particpation, but the fact of the matter is these pools don't serve the public the way they used to." He said the board's presently looking at overhauling its pools and aquatic program in the hopes of opening more aquatic centers, like the Bachman Indoor Pool.

In the suburbs, Dyer said, "pools are being taken out, and family aquatic centers are being put in. It's what families want. It's the right choice. .. The plan in the future will bring the city an aquatic system people will enjoy."

Fine, Caraway said, but that does nothing about now. And if he has to get out there and put a hose in the pool, fine, that's what he'll do. Because, he said, "Every time we close something, DeSoto, Cedar Hill they open something, and our folks go, and once they go we can't get 'em back. Once they go somewhere else and get comfortable, it's going to be heck to get them back."

Caraway then came back to a golden-oldie: the November referendum that allowed for the citywide sale of beer and wine: "Where's the $33 million increase in revenue from beer and wine?" he asked, referring to Ray Perryman's study given to the council in July 2010. Suhm told Caraway, look, that number wasn't right and she said so back then. To which Caraway responded: "The only reason we went completely wet is we were told $33 million would go into the general fund." Well, no, that wasn't the only reason.

Most of the council appears otherwise OK with the budget, save for details here and there involving, say, court fines, community prosecutors (Caraway and Delia Jasso want to keep theirs, but federal funds paying for them are drying up), arts funding (Ann Margolin wants it restored), library materials (there's an increase, but it's still way down after years' worth of guts).

Jasso also wondered: Why are we listing the opening-in-2012 Belo Garden as a positive, when it's going to cost money to maintain the thing ever year?

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32 comments
Montemalone
Montemalone

How is it we used to have a literal cement pond in every park? Were the 60s-70s that much more affluent in Dallas?

Montemalone
Montemalone

"Did we think out of the box and say, 'Let's do a midnight swim party at Glendale to bring up revenue' and get adults back involved

at Exline?"

Now that Hubbard's Hideaways, I mean churches, are no more, those folks need somewhere to get together and play, I mean pray.

Diane Birdwell
Diane Birdwell

Why close Samuell-Grand? EVERY time I drive by there during pool hours, it has kids in it!

Wylie H.
Wylie H.

Why doesn't Dwaine ask his buddy Willis Johnson to refund part of the skim he's taken off of city contracts?  That would easily pay for the pools, and then some.

CheeryBitch
CheeryBitch

Yup, record heat. So what is the City of Dallas doing to reduce energy costs? As I flew out of DFW Thursday night, Dallas was WELL lit.

replay
replay

The City should not be in the swimming pool business...........plain and simple. How do people in other cities survive?

Billy MacLeod
Billy MacLeod

I applaud Dwaine Caraway for using his allotted time to ask real questions, regardless of his motives he has a good point that should be looked at more closely. I think there is a good chance the City of Dallas has seen enough increased revenue from alcohol sales to invest a few hundred thousand dollars in keeping these pools open during the hottest summer on record. Leave it to bureaucrats to talk about the future of modern aquatic centers in Dallas as they close pools. Personally, I am very curious why Pauline Medrano is staying silent about the closure of the pool at Samuel Grand Park in District 2. She used the park and the pool specifically to defend her vote to raise taxes, now she is letting them shutter the pool. Nice.

columbiasooner
columbiasooner

I am rarely a proponent of privatization of government-run programs, but it seems as if the model for a "community pool" is the Kaycee Pool in Lake Highlands.  It has a now 5-6 year waiting list for people that are willing to pay $400/year to become a member.  I understand that is a lot of money to a lot of people but there has to be something to be learned from how they operate and run that place.  If my neighborhood pool at Tietze Park was converted into something even remotely close to the Kaycee Pool I would be the first on the list and sponsor an underprivileged family as well.  My neighbors would probably all follow suit.

Robert Wilonsky
Robert Wilonsky

Mayor Mike Rawlings, former Park Board president, asked Dyer moments ago to recount efforts to get folks to pools, which included sending 175,000 fliers to DISD schools, going door-to-door around three pools (including Glendale), and other efforts. "We actually did something," Rawlings said.

He asked Dyer about his aquatics plan, mentioned above. The head of Park and Rec said it's ready to be presented to council, and goes out 30 years, because "what we have now is not what the community wants." Said Rawlings, let's get that on the agenda pronto: "I don't believe we're giving our citizens a high-quality aquatic system."

Meeting adjourned.

Brad
Brad

Maybe Michael Vick can help you Carraway

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

I know this may be disrepectful to say, but instead of the cities "monied familes" like the Wylys and big businesses putting their name to theaters in the arts district, why not donate the money to city parks and pools, as both kids and grown people need a place to cool down on these hot days..

Billy MacLeod
Billy MacLeod

It amazes me that Pauline Medrano would sit silent and allow them to close that pool. If there ever was a time this is the time to stand up and speak out. In her interview with the Dallas Morning News Editorial Board she used Samuel Grand park and the keeping the pool there open specifically to rationalize her decision to vote to raise property taxes. Now she gets in line with the others to shutter the pool at the largest park in the area. It makes no sense at all.

Diane Birdwell
Diane Birdwell

Uh, Mesquite has a pool, other cities have pools. They aren't in business, it is recreation. It is use of faciilities already in existence.

DuckDuckGoose
DuckDuckGoose

And using that logic, the City should do what, exactly?

Barney Gumble
Barney Gumble

My family is one of the lucky ones that are members of the Kaycee Pool.  We were on a waiting list for three years.  The place can get packed, especially after the sun goes down.  There is a little wading pool for the young 'uns and slide in the pool for the bigger kids.  They also have a snack bar and cookouts on the weekend and you can even get booze there.  What's not to like?

Before going to the KC pool I would take the kids to the Lake Highlands pool at Skyline Park.  The only good thing I can say about the City of Dallas pool was that it was cheap.  Kids 11 & under are a buck, 12 & over are two dollars.  However, the hours sucked.  The pool opened a 1:00.  And even though the pool was only open Friday - Tuesday, there were some Saturdays I took the kids at 3:00 in the afternoon and they were closed with no explanation.  And even when they were open there weren't that many places to sit, even though the place was practically deserted.  Needless to say I don't miss going to the city run pool.

SCamp
SCamp

I understand Tietze Park pool is the only pool where revenues cover costs so the city makes a profit on it.

DuckDuckGoose
DuckDuckGoose

DISD's Loos Natatorium is high quality (well, for 1974). But that's the current state of Dallas aquatics.

It takes huge $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ to build and maintain pools.

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

There could be low attendance at traditional pools bc many kids/parents do not know how to swim.  In some cultures present in DISD, there is a surprising (to me) fear of water and the subsequent avoidance of even free swimming lessons.  I heard/read somewhere that 90% of black kids do not know how to swim.  Conversations with black teachers I know seemed to back up the statistic.

So maybe spray grounds (which are actually colorful and elaborate takes on playing with a hose and a sprinkler) and knee-deep pools without the "baby pool" label?

First, we need to find out what the families want.DISD teachers at every grade level could survey the kids so we get an all-ages result; we could also involve PTA parents in each school.  This would be cheap to do and would be fairly thorough.

pak152
pak152

where is it part of the city's charter to build and operate swimming pools?

Bob
Bob

They will only pay for things that keep the dirt flying.

Guest
Guest

Because they like theaters but not pools? 

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

Well said, although any money given to the Parks dept will probably just get wasted and misspent.Instead, wouldn't it be nice to see private donors build pools--even shallow ones to mitigate the liability issues--for communities and fund the maintenance for the next 25 years or so?  And maybe the city could donate the land and tax breaks or something.

Facebook User
Facebook User

@Chris the real issue is that the pools in question serve very few residents. They are empty most of the time and as a result they should be shut down.

pool boy
pool boy

I used to work on pools for a summer job, building them isn't as expensive as you'd think and maintaining them is actually pretty cheap, especially with todays chemicals that are really great at stabilizing the water chemistry.

90% of the time all you need is a quick vacuuming and brushing, a few pounds of shock and a few chlorine tabs once a week. Total cost of chemicals about $10-15 a week. We used to do the whole shebang for $50 a pool, probably find a company that would do it for less since tge city has multiple pools.

Billy MacLeod
Billy MacLeod

CHAPTER XVII of the Dallas City Charter created the PARK AND RECREATION DEPARTMENT and allows for a Park and Recreation Board to manage the business of running a parks system.

Billy MacLeod
Billy MacLeod

The Dallas City Council would have to vote spend money to build anything new.

pak152
pak152

so they can pretty much  build and operate whatever they want them?

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