City CouncilAlhambra , CA United States
A diverse continent of about two dozen Alhambra swim supporters are arguing pool access and programs were unjustly slashed. At a City Council meeting on Monday night, they voiced concern that the city’s swim team had been eliminated and that lap swimming was reduced to one lane in the city's two pools. Residents spoke about how access to pools are crucial to the city's stated vision as the "being the premier family-oriented and economically prosperous community in the San Gabriel Valley."
About a half dozen parents and children said they were disappointed about how the youth swim team, the Dolphins, had been cut. Azi Lopez, whose daughter has participated argued the need for adults and the city to invest in its young people. The team helps instill “character and sportsmanship,” he said, and it is an “important part of the development process of our children."
The city said the swim team had been a victim of budget cuts since it was costly to operate and benefited relatively few students compared with other programs such as Little League. Director of Community Services for the Parks & Recreation Department Cynthia Jarvis responded to the concerned residents by stating that deciding the budget for this fiscal year was difficult. “Sacrifices had to be made,” she said. Alhambra City Manager Julio Fuentes added, “It’s a dollar and cents” issue. “We don’t want to do anything to hurt the youth.”
The lack of lanes for lap swimming was another issues that brought many residents to the City Council meeting. Victor Chen, a resident of Rosemead has been coming to Alhambra to swim because of the pools. Like every other resident that came up to the podium, he argued that one lane designated for lap swimming is not enough and causes accidents.
Nicolas Coronas, who has been swimming in Alhambra since 1983 and has worked for two Olympic games, also voiced concern about the safety of swimmers. “You should never put lap swimmers with rec swimmers. It’s a disaster.” He provided recommendations to the Council into reaching out to foundations that give money to swim programs such as the US Swim Association, Nike and New Balance among many others. He also suggested the city look into preventive health programs such as Kaiser and Blue Shield for financial support. Coronas urged the Council to open up four lanes immediately, saying, “The lifeguards are there, the pool is fully staffed.” Cecilia Garcia also questioned the one lane usage. She argued that no one could get his or her full amount of exercise. “Sometimes there are five people in one lane,” she said. In addition, she argued that lap swimmers pay a fee for lap swimming but they don’t actually get to lap swim, “instead it turns into recreational swimming.”
In response to the residents, Jarvis said she would speak with the aquatics coordinator about opening additional lanes. Many residents also asked the Council to provide the financial breakdown of costs vs. revenue of the pools. Councilman Steven Placido asked the residents why they did not choose to swim at LA Fitness, if it was less expensive than the $3 per visit to the Alhambra pools.
Paul Stein, a resident and employee in Alhambra schools said that there was no comparison between the outside pools and the inside ones at the fitness center. Moreover, he said that the pools are what make Alhambra a great city. He commented on the diversity of ages and ethnicities that utilize such a facility, saying, “These pools bring Alhambra together.”