After an outcry, the city will keep pools open three weeks longer than planned
By Melissa Pamer and Michelle Valles, NBC Southern California http://bit.ly/Np2EqF
The impending closure of the Glassell Park Pool, which has remained open year-round for several years, has generated a community backlash. This week, the Los Angeles parks department moved to keep seaonal pools open an extra three weeks -- till Labor Day, when the Glassell Park facility will close as well.
Wednesday, Aug 8, 2012 | Updated 4:38 PM PDT :: fter an outcry over an earlier-than-usual closure date for seasonal city pools, Los Angeles has decided to keep municipal aquatics facilities open till Labor Day.
Some 33 seasonal pools were slated to close Sunday, to coincide with the start Monday of the Los Angeles Unified School District academic year.
The city's Department of Recreation and Parks has long linked its pool closure date to LAUSD's calendar, but this year the school district is starting up classes earlier than it has in past.
That calendar change has meant a shock for fans of the city pools – especially since many families cool off at city pools during Southern California heat waves such as the one the region is currently experiencing.
The backlash from city residents prompted the postponed closure date, city officials said. The about-face was first reported by the Daily News.
"Because of the community, we will be open till Labor Day," said Andrea Epstein, a spokeswoman for the parks department.
Recreational swim and swim lessons will continue to be offered at pools, but hours will change, she said.
City pools will be open 3 to 7 p.m. Monday thought Friday, and 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. They'll be open 1 to 5 p.m. on Labor Day.
Meanwhile, three pools that have operated year-round in recent years are slated to return to seasonal status. That means the pools – in Glassell Park, Pacoima and San Pedro – will close Labor Day, which is Sept. 3.
That change has prompted its own backlash, including at the popular Glassell Park pool, which has been open year-round for the past six years.
Some 200 people came to a community meeting about the pool closure in recent weeks, and more were expected at a meeting Wednesday evening where parks officials were slated to speak about the need for the change.
It's easy to explain, Epstein said: Budget cuts mean there's not enough money.
The three year-round pools' status change was in the 2012-13 budget approved by the City Council and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, she noted.
"We wish we had the budget to keep all of our pools open," she said.
Maggie Darett-Quiroz, who created SaveGlassellPool.com and who has been gathering support for the pool, said there's fear the pool will be vandalized and crime will increase when it's closed.
"It's about unity, and the fact that we have a gem and right now it's at risk," she said.
Thirteen year-round pools – out of the city's total 46 facilities – will remain open after Labor Day, Epstein said.
She could not provide a figure for how much money the city is saving by closing the three year-round facilities, but Councilman Ed Reyes' office said it would cost $493,000 to keep Glassell Park pool open for an additional nine months.