Pool ‘Solution’ Is Hardly Worth Cheering
August 13, 2007
Last week a batch of city and school district officials got together to pat themselves on the back for coming up with a “solution” to the lack of general public access at the swimming pool at the Miguel Contreras Learning Complex. Sure, their answer is better than nothing, but it’s still an inferior response to the problem, and does nothing to address why such a situation was allowed to develop in the first place.
As Los Angeles Downtown News first reported, during the hot summer the pool at the $160 million City West school remains off limits to the general public, despite there being few pools in the area. Also frustrating is the fact that the school opened last September, and the city and the school district had years of prep time before that to figure out who would pay for lifeguards and maintenance, which seem to be the major sticking points.
The solution, championed by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s office, is to have buses arrive a couple times a day to offer free rides to public pools in Glassell Park and Elysian Park. The service was rolled out last week and a cadre of city officials appeared at the Contreras pool on Aug. 9 to tout the advance.
It’s hard to treat a half-baked solution so late in the summer as a breakthrough. As we say, this situation never should have occurred in the first place. There was plenty of opportunity for the LAUSD, the mayor’s office and the Department of Recreation and Parks, which would operate the pool under a joint-use agreement with the district, to discuss what is required to make the school accessible to the public, and to provide it. Instead, they failed to offer even limited access hours, and only appeared to scramble after the media seized on the matter. You don’t get a gold star for accomplishing something that should have been done far better months ago.
What is clear is that the neighborhood has mostly lost out this year. With that grim reality, we think all the above-mentioned parties should start talking now about how to open this pool to the general public next summer. LAUSD officials should state what their concerns are, including how to keep the campus safe when people arrive for swimming, and Rec and Parks and the mayor’s office should begin looking for funding. Act early and don’t let the situation be repeated.