Community Meetings Set for Future of City Pools, Aquatics
Since May 2013, Baltimore City Recreation and Parks has been working with a community-based advisory committee to define a long-term vision for the pool system and a set of objectives to guide “Dive In Baltimore,” the strategic plan for the future of City pools and aquatics programs.
Seven public meetings were held summer 2013, to review the objectives, which include a long-term vision of the pool system. The 36-member committee was seeking public feedback on:
• Quality facilities;
• Quality programming;
• Pool system sustainability and growth;
• Accessibility and affordability;
• Integrated operations;
• Aquatics and healthy lifestyle;
• Citywide community spaces.
These meetings were open to the public and all residents and communities with Park or neighborhood walk-to pools or interest in aquatics are encouraged to attend.
“The broad goal of Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Baltimore City Recreation and Parks is an aquatics system that focuses on quality facilities, physical health and wellness, and programming that can be year-round,” said BCRP Director Ernest Burkeen. “That includes updating the aquatics facilities and a plan for building multipurpose indoor aquatics centers with a variety of swimming and non-swimming attractions as well as social areas.”
“These centers represent the future of urban recreation and this forward type of thinking by the City, BCRP and the aquatics committee will put Baltimore at the forefront of this kind of development,” Mr. Burkeen added.
The committee has met four times and drafted 28 objectives. The primary goal of the plan is not only about facilities and programs, but to ensure that all school-age children in Baltimore are proficient in swimming and water safety by 2023. Each of the objectives is connected to this broad vision and form the basis for the BCRP aquatic system recommendations.
One of the objectives is to make sure the aquatics plan aligns with the mayor’s goal of growing the tax base by adding 10,000 families to Baltimore’s population over the next decade.
In addition, the aquatics plan will integrate with the Baltimore City’s 2011 Recreation Center Plan that followed from the Mayor’s Recreation Center Task Force —with the aim to create multidimensional recreational complexes that include a recreation center, athletic fields, parks and aquatics.
The purpose of the public meetings were to provide feedback on these objectives, as well as three options for upgrading the aquatics system by 2023. The three options are:
1.) The Indoor/Outdoor Balance Model — To emphasize the balance of outdoor seasonal and indoor year-round aquatics facilities and programs with an integrated approach to indoor and outdoor aquatics operations and programming;
2.) The Neighborhood Distribution Model—To preserve the neighborhood-based focus on outdoor seasonal facilities with the provision of adding spray pads and moderately increase the number of indoor pools; and
3.) The Integrated Schools/BCRP Aquatics Model—To create a strong focus on indoor year-round aquatics facilities and programs citywide by partnering with Baltimore City Public Schools at existing high school pool facilities and by renovating and building new BCRP indoor facilities.
“The idea behind ‘Dive In, Baltimore‘ is to address and reform the ideological approach of aquatics in the city,” said Kate Brower, urban planner for BCRP’s Capital Development Division. “That’s why these public meetings are so important. Community involvement and engagement will ultimately decide the future of Baltimore’s pool system and programming.”