Saturday, April 18, 2015

Yesterday at the pool . . . thoughts . . .

Looking north, from the covered area south of the pool.
Every now and then, my morning schedule can accommodate a bike ride to the pool where I exercise on my own for about 45 minutes or so. I refer to it as my version of "dancing as if nobody's watching." Which, unfortunately, is more the case than not during the week as there are usually few people in the pool while I am there. Even if there were 20 people at the pool yesterday morning, they would not be easily accommodated since the pool is currently arranged in a 10 lane, 50 meter configuration. This is great for swim teams and there are a few that use it, some on a regular basis. Other times, the lanes are set up in an east/west orientation, which allows for more lap swimming and a free swim area in the middle of the pool.

I can also tell you that the pool remained around 80 degrees all during the winter season. The heaters were able to keep up and blankets were placed over the pool by the lifeguards at the end of the day. That is quite a process and you can still see the blankets rolled up on the western side of the pool/locker building. I found out just this week that the kiddie pool north of the main pool is idle and without water in it for a reason. The reason is it heats up first and takes potential heat away from the large pool. It ends up being almost like a hot tub if it is filled with water and heated. The lifeguards mentioned that they may fill it during the summer. I only remember it being filled last about two years ago. I can tell you that the pool temperature was very warm yesterday. This is the time of year that they don't need to use the blankets.
Looking west under the covered awning area at the south end of the pool. And, no, the pool deck is not tilted; my cellphone camera was not level when I took this. The pool is slightly lower on the west side than the east, but that doesn't seem to impair its function. Some thought this settling may have happened during the construction of the "new" casino building. 
This is really the only area (above) for consistent shade by the pool. I have seen this area used for parties now and then. Food and drink are allowed around the pool, but no alcohol and no smoking. There is another area like this on the north side, but it still gets sun as it doesn't have a wall which blocks the sun on the south side of the pool like the area shown above. It is also somewhat restricted due to the empty state of the kiddie pool. It is posted "No EntryClosed" since the open, empty pool is a hazard. The lifeguards are quick to use their whistle if anyone goes beyond the bench on that side of the pool. They also strictly enforce the "No Running" rule with a few toots of their whistle. And don't mess with the floating lane lines—that will get you whistled at quickly.
One of the "romantic" scenes that adorn the west wall of the otherwise very plain pool/locker building.
There is a lovely mural on the west wall of the pool building that was painted by the members of the Lake Worth Art League back in 2010. It is done in a Roman theme and there are imaginary vistas as if you can see the ocean through the building. Of course you can't, but it is a pleasing illusion. One can only wonder what this concrete building would look like without such an artistic decoration.

These murals were finished just a year before the pool was closed by the Susan Stanton administration, in part to make the City's case that Greater Bay and Peter Willard didn't perform under their contract to redevelop the Casino building complex. The condition of the pool was portrayed as unusable and fingers were pointed in the direction of Greater Bay. By now, we all know that the city had to pay Greater Bay $1.6 million to settle the lawsuit and spent $900,000 defending the city's breach of contract. By using the search feature of this blog (upper right-corner), you can read up on the Casino project and Greater Bay's plan for the complex.

The pool was closed all during the demolition of the older casino building and the construction of the new one. Water remained in the pool during that entire time and some imagined that served to tease people who regularly used the pool in the past. Many still comment about that period and see it as the City's first attempt to send a message its ultimate intent was to close the pool. Remember, that was during the previous administration and a different City Commission.
This version of the pool has been around since 1971 and this plaque tells the story of who was around then that were part of that decision making process. The former pool was to the west of the north end of the former casino building. It morphed from a saltwater pool in the 1920's and had a variety of diving platforms. I'll see if I can find some of those pictures on my hard drive and put them up later. The point here is that, from the earliest days of the Lake Worth beach area, there was a swimming pool that was part of the offerings. I'm not sure what discussion occurred about the construction of the current pool at the Casino complex or if other locations were considered or not. If someone can recall you can share that information in the comments section below.
Plaque showing the members of the city commission and administration at the time of the pool's original construction.
The sign below recognizes the FRDAP grant that the city was in jeopardy of losing had not Greater Bay and Peter Willard done the work before the grant's expiration deadline. The amount of the pool project was around $420,000, with about half coming from the city and half coming from the state. There was a lot of electrical work done to the pool at that time, along with the installation of new pool deck material. The decision was made to do most of the work on aesthetic improvements to the pool. The Greater Bay plan would have relocated the access to the pool to the west.
Even though my first stint on a volunteer board was the Leisure Services Board, where we talked a lot about the pool and its operations, I had never been in the pool until the middle part of 2013. It was then I discovered the water aerobics class. I can tell you that, combined with biking, this routine has helped issues that I had with my lower back. I wish that I had taken advantage of this community pool earlier in my 23 year residency in Lake Worth. Then, like now, attendance at the pool was an issue and everyone has their reason why.

Some complain that the city can do more to promote the pool. The case can be made for that; however the reality is it comes down to resources that the City just doesn't have right now. We should all look forward, and not FEAR, the opportunity that the Invitation to Negotiate (ITN) provides in how better to utilize this property and the pool to the benefit of the user and the Lake Worth taxpayer. I am approaching this with an open mind and I think we all should do the same. Do not get caught up in the hysteria ginned up during the lead up to the election or the flames repeatedly fanned by a weekly tabloid which magically appeared just after the new year, prior to our last election. You know, the one with little or no advertising that's "ALWAYS FREE" and litters most of our public places and businesses.

Oh, I thought you might like to see the certificate I received from the City back in 1997 when the Leisure Services was dissolved. It was later replaced by the Recreation Board.


Tear down that wall said...

Liked reading your observations. Here's mine.
One. Making the argument that the pool is losing money and something needs to be done using logic won't work. Logic won't win a heated debate with emotion. Take Lynn Anderson for example the queen of illogic. She doesn't use the pool and has no intention but it doesn't mean she doesn't have an emotional connection to it. She might have had a crush on a lifeguard as a kid or has a treasured picture with a friend by the pool. It could be anything. Hardly anyone uses the pool but someone's emotional attachment to it isn't any less real than the pool itself. It's like THOSE jeans in the closet. The one's that will never fit again but you can't muster the thought of getting rid of them. How you shake someone's illogic to get them to be logical is for the experts.
Two. Many people are queasy about public pools, hygiene etc.
Three. All I would add is what you already touched on. One of the reasons people go to the beach is to see the ocean. With the pier and all it is a tremendous sight. The brainiacs who built the pool put up walls so you can't see the ocean. Swim in the ElDub pool next to the ocean and you can't see the ocean from there. Dumb.

Anonymous said...

Wish it was still salt water pool, but I guess that would be a problem with the swimmers who urinate in there.

Anonymous said...

Its not logical to attack the pool at every turn b/c its not bringing in a profit, when the rest of our recreational facilities are also not bringing in a profit.

People reject the efforts by the City to close the pool b/c those efforts simply don't make sense. If every recreational facility in LW were bringing in a profit and the pool wasn't, then these attacks would make sense. But since none of our recreational facilities turn a profit then it just seems like people want to pave over the pool for some other reason (i.e. developer friends).

Anonymous said...

No not developer friends. The pool occupies valuable to the tenth power space. That space could turn a profit if it werre parking instead of the money loser it is and has been.

For the reasons stated above, the pool should be rebuilt in a different location on the mainland. It could still be fresh water, you would still not be able to see the ocean from it and it would still lose money. The big difference is that now we could have enough parking at the beach, you know, where the ocean is and all our restaurant tenants, ball room and fishing pier are located.

Lake Worth Beach is still central Palm Beach County's "Beach" and as the county grows we will need to grow with it.