To the Editor:
In a letter to the editor from last week’s edition of the Alexandria Gazette Packet [“Government Over-reach”], Jimm Roberts is critical about several things in Alexandria. One of those happens to be the new 50-meter indoor pool that will be built at Chinquapin. While there is little likelihood of changing Mr. Roberts mind, his letter presents a great opportunity to boast about the benefits of that new pool.
Here are some of the positives of that new year-round pool:
The latest recreation needs assessment by the city shows the need for more swimming pools to be one of the highest unmet demands of city residents.
In the latest media survey of city residents, 76 percent of the respondents favored building the new pool at Chinquapin.
Both of these survey results highlight the fact that our residents appreciate the health and lifestyle benefits of swimming pools. Exercising in water is an activity that anyone can do at almost any age and learning to swim can save your own life and maybe others. What better use of the city’s money than to keep children and adults healthy and safe?
Our group – the Advocates for Alexandria Aquatics – is working with the city and others, such as INOVA Alexandria Hospital and the Alexandria City Public Schools, to teach all kids in Alexandria how to swim. To do that, we need more pool space, which the new pool will provide. We estimate that approximately 7,500 kids in our public schools cannot swim (about 50 percent).
One of the benefits of a large, indoor pool is the wide range of activities that it can support — from recreational lap swimming to competitive high school meets for our local schools (which currently rent space in other jurisdictions just to have a “home” meet), to water aerobics for seniors, to water polo matches and kayak lessons, to therapy sessions and prenatal and postnatal classes, and to Special Olympics training and scuba diving. What other recreational facility offers such a range of great activities?
Our group is a microcosm of those uses and interests. We have members who use the existing pool for therapy sessions and lap swimming for fitness; we have others who take their kids and grandchildren to learn
how to swim or just play in the water; we have youth and adult competitive swimmers and triathletes; we have parents of high school swimmers and kids who swim in recreation leagues; we have members who play water polo; you name it, and we probably have someone in our group who does it. We all share one observation – there is not enough pool capacity in Alexandria for everyone to participate in these activities. A consultant for the city estimates that the current pools only meet 20 percent of the potential demand.
- A well-run pool can generate revenue for the city when swim meets are held here. The city is targeting an 80 percent cost recovery of pool costs — we expect that it can be even higher with judicious use of naming rights
to pool features. That’s hardly a drain on the city’s budget for all of the benefits that our residents will experience.
- We have already been approached about resident and employee wellness programs being established at the new pool. With the proper marketing, it can be a very positive selling point for living in Alexandria.
There are many more advantages to the new pool, but the weather is perfect and Mr. Roberts’ letter has me thinking about swimming with my grandchildren. See you at the pool!
Chair, Advocates for Alexandria Aquatics