Should Pelham have its own pool?

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Matt Michailoff, Features Editor, Junior

Many residents of Pelham can recall a pleasant memory of hanging out with their friends or relaxing by the pool at the New York Athletic Club, Pelham Country Club, or other nearby summer club. However, these luxuries are not guaranteed for many of Pelham who do not have access to these private, expensive clubs. Regardless, Pelham has continued to deny its residents a pool, restricting the advancement of Pelham and the community.

According to the CDC, there are 4,000-8,000 nonfatal drownings every year on average. Drowning can cause serious brain damage and debilitating injuries, affecting people of all ages for their entire life. A pool in Pelham would mitigate this problem because it would make water safety education and swimming lessons more accessible for busy residents. While there are learn-to-swim schools nearby that offer lessons, a close-by town pool would be much more affordable and would allow people of all ages to learn to swim.

Pelham swimming, a constantly ignored and underfunded program, is one of the town’s most accomplished sports with several league championships, undefeated seasons, a section championship, and an array of school and section records within just a few years. This is not to mention an olympian athlete, Kate Douglass. Over the past decade, more than ten Pelham swimmers and divers have committed to swim at highly competitive schools including the University of Virginia and Bucknell. However, Pelham has continued to disregard their swim program and has refused them the chance to have a pool of their own. The Boys and Girls Varsity Swim teams practice at Sarah Lawrence College at various times after school, and the district does not provide the teams with a bus for practice. Therefore, if swimmers do not have a ride to the pool, which can take over 15 minutes to get to, they cannot participate in the swim program. In addition, Sarah Lawrence does not have a diving board, so any student wishing to participate in diving for the school must fund and manage their own training.

Nearly every Westchester town near Pelham has a public or semi-public swimming pool. New Rochelle, Mount Vernon, and Mamaroneck all have indoor swimming pools owned by their school districts, which can be used by the public all year round. Scarsdale and Greenburgh have outdoor pools managed by the town, while Eastchester and Rye both have semi-public outdoor swim clubs. Pelham residents who do not belong to clubs must go to Wilson Woods Pool, which does not have a standard lap pool, or Saxon Woods Pool in White Plains and pay a fee. The Pelham Recreation Summer Camp has to rent a bus to take their campers to the Saxon Woods Pool multiple times a week.

A common argument against the construction of a pool in Pelham is the removal of green space. Pelham utilizes its fields for recreational activities which are a staple for many Pelham residents. However, there is already a vast amount of land in Pelham which is used for recreational purposes and athletic development. Over the last few years, Pelham has supervised several multimillion-dollar projects to replace fields with turf and replenish old grounds. Also, besides youth and school sports teams, most Pelham residents cannot use these facilities. Not to mention, some children do not enjoy participating in these sports. Swimming is an exceptional activity for people with both physical and intellectual disabilities as well. Beyond swimming, the construction of a pool can create opportunities for diving, water polo, synchronized swimming, and aquatic activities.

Another argument against the pool is the potential cost of the project. Pools are expensive to build and maintain, which has been a concern for many years. New “interactive” classrooms with expensive technology, including However, chromebook carts for kindergarteners, are being built at elementary schools around the district. Is that a priority? The town spent millions of dollars on renovating Wolfs Lane Park and Woodland Park, which were in fine condition before. The town has shown recently that they have prioritized the colossal construction of several apartment buildings which do not fit in with the character of the town or benefit the greater community. It is seemingly clear that Pelham picks and chooses when they want to spend money on. In addition, a pool would be paid for by users and create job opportunities including lifeguards, pool directors, swim instructors, and more.

To the adults and administrators of Pelham, please do not continue to fail the residents of our town. We must start looking beyond these simple limitations and create an opportunity for people across the community to enjoy a pool for all.