Your View: Chinquapin Park pool project is not for just a few residents

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By Erin Conaton, Alexandria (File photo)

To the editor:
The Alexandria Times’ February 11 editorial opposing city council’s current level of support for a 50-meter pool at Chinquapin (“Council should apply a business model to government spending decisions”) fell flat — it was long on quotations and short on well-reasoned thinking.

The editorial suggested that city council made a decision based on a vague gut feeling that funding this community resource might be nice for a small segment of the population — regional and elite swimmers — and went on to state directly that City Hall renovations should be funded because it is the “image” of our city. I beg to differ.

As a life-long competitive swimmer, I must confess that the idea of a new 50-meter pool in my city makes me drool. But competitive and so-called “elite” swimmers are only a small segment of the population that will benefit from a renovated and enlarged Chinquapin Park pool.

As I stand on the pool deck, waiting sometimes 20 or 30 minutes for a lane to open up so I can get in a workout, I see the image of Alexandria — our people. I see seniors exercising and socializing. I see parents with babies playing in the water and learning to swim. I see my children training and working hard to be strong athletes. I see families hosting birthday parties. I see scuba divers working toward certification. I see high school students playing water polo. I see city employees providing outings for young adults with special needs.

These people come to Chinquapin knowing that the locker rooms are too small, there are not enough showers and you may need to wait a significant period of time before a lane opens up. Chinquapin is bursting at the seams. Imagine how many people would flood to a new spacious facility. And let’s not forget that all of these patrons pay to use the facility. Chinquapin is not just a cost center; it collects fees. Residents purchase memberships. Teams rent lanes. Fitness teachers rent space. Families pay to host parties.

We are a city that values and supports an active lifestyle for our citizens. The “very image of Alexandria” is not a building. It is its people. Tax dollars should be spent to improve the lives of those citizens. A new 50-meter pool is not only a place where people will swim and compete. It is a place where the community will come together — people of all ages, races and income levels.

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5 COMMENTS

  1. Well actually I don’t think my tax dollars should be used to pay for a new elite indoor water use pool. The facility’s annual fees are just as high as a local health clubs annual dues that provides more access to multiple pools in multiple locations at varying times. Also he health clubs offer two hour child care as an additional fee, included in the annual membership, that more than covers the cost of a baby sitter for two hours at three times per week for a month do the math and the child care services are worth the membership. The assumed pretentiousness of joining chinquapin in Alexandria can be overlooked by the advantages of joining a truly professional health, wellness and sport club. The old adage you get what you pay isn’t true for the chinquapin aquatics, health and fitness center of Alexandria and that is with the employee and resident discount.

  2. Thank you Erin. You’ve said it so well – the investment in the 50M pool at Chinquapin is an investment in Alexandria’s citizens. As our population has grown the city has woefully underfunded infrastructure, including the critically important recreational infrastructure that makes our city an attractive place to live, work and play. Kudos to the City Council for recognizing how important it is to support a modern, vibrant aquatics facility!

  3. Before I can throw my support behind the Alexandria Aquatics efforts to build a new 50 meter pool I would need assurances that the expanded pool capacity would not be taken up by expanded swim team use. Erin’s problem directly relates to all the activities in the pool from swim teams, water aerobics, learn to swim etc. that restrict open lanes for lap swimming to 2 (or less) during most peak swim times. If my tax dollars are going to support a pool I want to be able to access it for lap swimming especially week nights from 4 – 7pm.