OPINION: Pooling Resources

Filed under: Featured News,Opinion |

When it’s time for us to sing the praises of our fair city, we’re always quick to single out one of its relatively unsung civic treasures: public pools.

At any one of the city’s 70 public pools – the most per capita in the entire United States, according to the city’s Parks & Recreation Commissioner, Kathryn Ott Lovell – you can find citizens from across the spectra of class, culture, nationality and race enjoying the pristine blue waters, free of charge. It is one of the finest examples anywhere of what a color-blind, class-blind society looks like when it comes together.

But in the wake of disturbing news coming out of Parks & Rec, we are seeing other primary colors as well – specifically, red and green.

That’s because Lovell told the Inquirer last week that a funding deficit prevented a pool in Fishtown from opening this summer – and that $100 million is needed to bring all of the pools up to snuff.

That is no small sum, and one that will only be fractionally covered by the city’s $500 million Rebuild program. So, what can be done to address this burgeoning crisis – not a crisis of necessity, but of quality of life?

We don’t have an answer yet, but we suspect and hope that one is in the offing, either through a graduated and staggered maintenance plan that will tackle those pools most in need of upgrades, and/or concerted fundraising efforts by communities and nonprofit organizations. After all, it’s this type of civic mainstay that inspired the William Penn Foundation to donate $100 million to rebuild in the first place.

Kudos to Commissioner Ott Lovell for bringing this issue to the forefront just when the pool culture is at its most visible. For the nearly 1 million people who will be enjoying this civic benefit this year, and for the millions more who hope to do so in the future, we must begin planning now so that we can all be in the swim later.

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