It may be too cold for most of us to think about swimming. But, Tulsa's plan to close five pools this summer has some people hot under the collar. As News on Six reporter Lori Fullbright explains, all the pools on the chopping block are in North Tulsa.
Edith Shoals runs a camp for teenagers every summer, to keep them off the streets and out of trouble. One of their main activities is swimming in a North Tulsa pool; it is now one of five the city plans to remove. â€œAll of this area, people bring their kids to swim here. It's all we have. We have no movie theatres, no Celebration Stations, no Chuckie Cheese, we don't have any of that over here."
The pools that will be closed are Hall, Hawthorne, Franklin, Maxwell and Hill. That will still leave five pools open in North Tulsa, Lacy, Springdale, Archer, Berry and Chamberlain. Bob Lemons, Interim Parks Director: "We're replacing two of the pools that are the oldest and in the worst shape with new, modern facilities with spray features that are widely accepted in the country. We only have two now and they're in South Tulsa, so, we're now putting two in North Tulsa."
Those spray features will be open park hours, not just pool hours and don't require lifeguards. Lemons says budget cuts forced the pool closings and the decision was based on which pools were in bad shape and also had low usage. He says North Tulsa will still have more pools than any other part of the city.
Edith Shoals says she'd still rather see the cuts spread all over the city. "They should be fair about it. So, the kids are swimming in East and West Tulsa. One pool isn't going to hurt them. But, five, that's not going to make it." Shoals hopes the community will help her raise money to keep at least one of the pools open, so the at-risk kids, looking for something safe to do, can keep their heads above water.
The city says it will listen to proposals, but says it costs between $17,000 and $30,000 to operate a junior pool during the summer. They also say the pool that Shoals wants to save needs $28,000 in repairs just to make it operational.