Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Question: Did Chris McVoy, PhD, a former commissioner in Lake Worth, submit his report for the pool at the Beach yet?

With great aplomb and to everyone’s surprise at a Commission meeting last February, McVoy found an engineer or expert of some sort who ostensibly has the answer how to fix the pool and re-open the facility. And quite cheaply too. If you recall, all this happened while McVoy was running for re-election. The public wasn’t all that impressed. He didn’t win.

Most of the debate about the municipal pool at the Beach starts with an assumption — that we should have a pool at the Beach — shouldn’t that assumption be challenged?

What percentage of City residents actually use the pool? If the same 20–30 people are contacting their elected officials all the time demanding a new pool, is that representative of the entire City? Has anyone thought of conducting a survey and finding out what the public wants? What do their kids want?

“We need a pool to teach our kids how to swim and for safety classes too!” OK. But does that pool need to be at our Beach? Every time having to spend $4 to park? No one who uses the County pool at Lake Lytal seems to mind there is not a beach nearby.

What about “Engaging Youth to Create Community Places” (see below)? More and more people are questioning the idea of a new municipal pool at the Beach when there are so many other and better options for community access. One location bandied about is Bryant Park and there are other locations Downtown as well. Starting some time in June the debate will begin about the pool and the questions need to asked in order: 1) Should the City even have a municipal pool? 2) Where should the pool be located?

Just having a pool at the Beach because we’ve always had one there is not justification enough. For most families here in the City of Lake Worth a trip to the pool costs too much: a family of four each day at the pool is $16 with parking. And that’s just to start.

[FYI: The County will be constructing a new pool facility at Lake Lytal; the pool I now use for my water exercise routine. To learn more about the pool at Lake Lytal use this link or call 561-233-1426. Parking is FREE. With a 20-visit pass the cost/visit is $2.44.]

Back in 2010 when there was another raging debate about the pool it was called a “white elephant” from a bygone era when A1A and Dixie Hwy. were major north-south thruways for tourists and visitors. The pool was shut down that year because the City was running out of money to keep it operational.

To construct a new pool (or repair the old one) at the Beach the public in the City of Lake Worth will be tasked with subsidizing it. But what about the Beach? Could something be constructed there to attract more people and get more interest? What do Millennials want at our Beach? Teenagers and “young people”?

Below is an excerpt from the Project for Public Spaces written by Cheryl Millard:

     “Young people use public spaces just as much as anyone else, if not more. And yet, too often young people, or young adults between the ages of 12 to 25, are not included in the process of Placemaking and end up “loitering” in other spaces. [emphasis added] Some communities frown upon loitering, which can create a negative image for young people and just contributes to the stigma surrounding them, especially those who are at risk. By being actively engaged in youth-friendly spaces, young people can feel like they have investment in their community and they can develop a strong sense of ownership in these places.
     Parks and public spaces are often built with small children and adults in mind, with an emphasis on playgrounds for the children and benches for the adults watching them. Alternatively, some public spaces are simply devoid of activity or amenities – conducive to picnicking or maybe playing ball, but offering little else for young people. With nothing to do after school, they hang out at train stations, shopping centers, and local parks.

The conversation will begin soon on how to fix all the problems at the Lake Worth Casino and the future of the pool. As part of that conversation wouldn’t part of that discussion be how to keep the younger people, teenagers for instance, more “busy” and engaged? What better place, or space, for that than the Casino complex at the Beach?

If the City is going to have a public amenity at the Beach, is a pool the best option?
Photo of Lake Worth Casino Complex by Skyline Aerials, LLC. Where else can you envision a public pool in the City of Lake Worth?

What could be at the Casino complex to attract more young people and keep them excited? Not all of the younger people get excited about laying on the beach or surfing. How about a skate park? There is plenty of space for one. Volleyball courts with stands for the community to watch? Or an outdoor auditorium for plays, movie nights, and other activities?

Start coming up with ideas. Before long your elected officials will asking you what you think. Here’s another idea: How about shuffleboard courts as part of a sports complex?