Open Letter to the Los Alamos County Council:
I am asking the County Council to please consider using Capital Improvement Projects (CIP) funds to construct a multigenerational pool.
Although the bond did not pass, nearly half the voters supported the Council’s proposal to provide healthy recreational alternatives. Even those who opposed the bond were not necessarily opposing the rec facilities. Their main concern was not to have their property taxes increased.
One of the most vocal opponents of the bond actually signed the petition two years ago supporting the construction of the multigenerational pool through CIP funds. That petition garnered 726 signatures.
Why should the multigenerational pool be the project to benefit from the current CIP funds?
Of this year’s high school freshmen class one fourth of them cannot swim as was discovered during their swimming lessons in March. Knowing how to swim is a life saving skill useful in a state full of rivers, lakes and arroyos. Because fewer young people are learning to swim, the nation, including Los Alamos is facing a shortage of lifeguards.
The cost of the pool will never be as low as it is today. Each year we pass up the opportunity to build a multigenerational pool. When the Aquatic Center was built 30 years ago, the cost of the multigenerational pool was $1 million. Then in 2011 the cost rose to $6.4 million. Today it is $8.6 million. Now is the time for the Council to act. You have the funds to build the pool today.
This facility would have the greatest impact of usage in part due to the fact that it is year round. Its central location is within walking distance to other venues that would attract tourists such as PEEC, the Historical Museums, Indian ruins, Art Center, Library, Skate Park, Pond, Teen Center and restaurants. In May 15, 163 patrons made use of the Aquatic Center with 7,511 hitting the water. This spring students from Questa, Velarde, and Pagosa Springs took advantage of the current pool. Imagine how many more visitors would be attracted to a pool with a giant slide and lazy river.
I am embarrassed to tell new families that the only place where young children can learn to swim at the Aquatic Center is standing on a half submerged narrow table. Incredible, in a town full of scientists and engineers; we can do better for our kids.
We need to show our children that they matter. It took 30 years to build a teen center. It is already 30 years since the proponents for adding a multigenerational pool were able to raise a grand total of $150,000 toward its construction. I realize that other rec projects such as the golf course are deserving of funding. However, the golf course can be improved in increments as funding becomes available, not so for the multigenerational pool.
Since the YMCA instituted the program, Senior Night, it essentially ended the rash of fatal high school deaths at graduation because kids were now provided a safe place to have fun. I believe a multigenerational pool has the potential to save lives. Aside from the obvious benefit of protecting one from drowning, this pool allows children to learn to have fun, to reduce the stresses that cause anxiety and depression, which can potentially lead to suicide.