Thursday, August 12, 2010

A Day at the Pool

Banneker Pool.  Photo Credit: Andrew at The New Columbia Heights.
The District has some great public pools, so good that when residents come to enjoy a nice summer day, they often find every sign post and railing wallpapered with bikes and every seat at the pool taken. 

According to District government officials, they have doubled the number of chairs at recreation centers such as Banneker, located on Georgia Avenue NW across from Howard University.  After residents went as far as to form a Facebook page to advocate their case, the Department of Parks and Recreation added sixty chairs this summer.  Nevertheless, on any given weekend, there is no available seating.  DPR states that it plans to order more chairs next year, but it has no funds in its budget for this season. 

Likewise, the city has depleted its budget for bike racks.  Although a recreation center would seem to be a logical place for bike racks, Banneker has none.  The lack of bike racks leads more people to drive, both because its difficult to find a secure and convenient place to lock a bike and because its not possible to carry a chair when riding.  It also may impact the ability of disabled individuals to access the pool, given that bikes cover railings and intrude upon the sidewalks and walkways.  The Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) has had some success in working with the Department of Parks and Recreation and District Department of Transportation to purchase and install pike racks at Jelleff Pool in Georgetown.

There's an easy solution that does not require the District government to place precious tax dollars in a recession toward such luxuries as pool chairs and such conveniences as bike racks. 

Aside from chairs and bike racks, there's one other thing that is obviously missing at the District's recreation centers... drinks.  Surprisingly, there are no vending machines.  Many poolgoers would happily shell out $1 to enjoy a cold bottle of water or $2 for a sports drink or soda.  Current choices are drinking so-so water out of a fountain, bringing a drink that turns warm as it bakes in the sun, or walking several blocks to buy one. 

When I was a Brooklyn kid, my friends and I occasionally sold drinks on Brighton Beach and Coney Island.  In just a few hours, we would walk away with enough profit to triple our allowance.  With just a little bit of entrepreneurship, the District could generate enough revenue to fund all the chairs and bike racks it needs and make poolgoing in the city an even better experience for all.

The District's outdoor public pools are open Monday through Friday from 1pm until 8pm and on weekends from 12pm until 6pm.  There is no admission charge for District residents, but be sure to bring your DC drivers license or other ID.  You can find the nearest outdoor pool here including its hours of operation.

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