'Pools for Kids' fundraiser won't keep Owen Park Recreation Center open

Friday, May 17th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

The city is close to getting enough money to run all the swimming pools this summer - but not enough to keep one recreation center from closing.

News on Six reporter Emory Bryan says its not the flashiest fundraiser, but a radio station dejay sat in a kiddie pool all day to raise money for the city. Kevan Seal with KXOJ Radio: "There's just no reason in the world why a city like this should have closed community centers." And even though money at something like this comes in a few dollars at a time, the fundraising is on track to reach the mayor's goal of $300,000.

Bob Lemmons, Interim Parks Director: "We do get some dollar contributions and some five dollars, all levels of contributions." But the fundraising for the pools won't change a decision to eliminate programs at Owen Park Recreation Center. The Parks Department says it will save $188,000 by eliminating programs at Owen - and moving them to Zieglar Park - about two miles away. Lemons: "We didn't want to close it, and Owen was close to both Zieglar and Ben Hill so we essentially closed the one in the middle."

The decision is subject to change if a community group comes forward to adopt Owen and run the programs - it's happened at a couple of centers. While the mayor's office is trying to find someone for that cause - the fund raising for pools has become a community effort - with T-shirts sales at Mayfest going towards the pools - and businesses helping out.

Lemons: "We really do think we'll get there, we're not there yet but wer'e getting close and by the time the pools are ready to be open and they all will open, that'w we'll have the money we need to operate them." The mayor's office reports $227,000 in donations and pledges for the pools campaign.

Mayor Bill LaFortune says he's hoping someone will run the programs over at Owen Park, but for budgeting purposes, they'll plan to keep it closed.