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Baltimore leaders, residents ask why city pools remained closed all summer

Baltimore leaders, residents ask why city pools remained closed all summer
Baltimore leaders, residents ask why city pools remained closed all summer 02:44

BALTIMORE - Summer is coming to a close, but for some city residents, their neighborhood pool never opened.

Baltimore leaders and residents want to know why these pools stayed closed.

At Patterson Park, City Councilman Zeke Cohen, a group of neighborhood associations and non-profits raised money for a splash pad to make up for the fact that the season summer is nearly over.

Still, the pool at Patterson Park is still closed.

"In the hottest summer on record, every single kid in Baltimore deserves to swim in the pool," Cohen said.

Cohen led a public hearing Wednesday to find out why the Patterson Park Pool and the Cherry Hill Pool are still closed and why the pool at Lake Clifton didn't open until the end of July.

"This hearing is about accountability," Cohen said. "I believe system failures in procurement and communication need to be accounted for and fixed."

Brian Baker, who runs a youth program called Fitness Fun and Games, testified that he would bring groups of children to the pool only to find out it was closed, and the children missed out on a lot.

"It provides recreation for our youth in a fun and engaging way, and it allows some of our students to learn to swim for the first time which is a valuable life skill that could potentially save their life," Baker said. "Our children were denied those benefits for several weeks this summer."

Colin Thompson, an 11th-grader from northeast Baltimore, also testified.

"When the pools are open in the most diverse communities it keeps young people more engaged as a public safety and crime prevention strategy," Thompson said. "It becomes more frustrating to go to a pool and see that it's closed with no types of heads-up or no warning."

Reginald Moore, Director of Recreation and Parks, said that while mechanical issues at Clifton park were able to be repaired by July, Patterson Park and Cherry Hill are in much worse condition and need full renovations.

"Most of these infrastructures are 50 plus years old and there's been a limited lack of funding and now we're saying let's focus on these, let's address these and that's something that we're going to do moving forward as an agency," Moore said.

Moore said the department will improve communication and Patterson Park Pool is now under contract for construction.

He said city-owned pools will be open next summer.

In the meantime, the splash pad will be free and open to the public on Sundays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and on  Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 3 p.m. to  6 p.m.

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