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NELA Pools to Close Weeks Earlier This Summer

The City’s budget cuts claim a popular community resource families rely on to stay cool during summer.

Summer is a time when many families in and around Northeast L.A. splash around in swimming pools. After all, the kids aren’t in school, there’s time to kill—and it’s hot.

Though there was much jubilation across the city as seasonal pools opened on Saturday, June 23--that joy was tampered by news that they'll be closing on August 12, three weeks earlier than last year.

The cuts were made as part of the city's effort to close a $238 million deficit in the fiscal year 2013 budget, which was approved in May.

Nina Zippay, a Mount Washington parent, said the closure of the Highland Park pool would affect her family "deeply."

"My daughter's grades improved by putting her in water polo in the spring. Now the city cuts out a program that resulted in better academic performance," Zippay said. "Meanwhile, Mount Washington parents spend over $10,000 of our own money to support one hour of P.E. a week. It's simple nonsense."

The Olympic-size pool in Glassell Park has long been used for competitions by students, who also use a City pool on the outskirts of the , across from the school campus.

“August is our hottest month and we’re devastated,” said Claudia Estrada, the manager of the pool, which is located a stone’s throw from the crossing on Eagle Rock Boulevard and Verdugo Road.

“That’s awful,” Gina Biehn, a Glassell Park resident who visits the pool regularly with her preteen son, told Patch Monday when informed about the pool’s impending closure. “Soon, people are going to have no libraries, no schools, nowhere to go—what are kids meant to do on all these [vacation] days?”

Visitors can sign a petition against the pool’s closure at the reception area for the facility at the recreation center. An online petition can also be signed by clicking this link and pleas made to the office of Council Member Eric Garcetti, who is running for mayor and under whose jurisdiction the Glassell Park Rec Center falls, at (323) 478-9002. Click here to join an 'Occupy Glassell Park' Facebook campaign to oppose the pool's imminent shutdown.

The City of Los Angeles' Citywide Aquatics Division, where Aquatic Director Jon Kopitke and Acting Principal Recreatiion Supervisor I Trish Delgado have their offices, can be reached at (323) 906-7953. The division's e-mail address is citywide.aquatics@lacity.org.

Harvey June 27, 2012 at 03:33 PM
David, do you happen to know the cost to keep the pools open for the three weeks currently being cut? Just curious to know the cost for the Highland Park pool in particular. That pool services a lot of kids who don't have yards or much outdoor space to play in during the summer. It is usually packed with kids all summer long.
Rene June 27, 2012 at 04:19 PM
Since many LAUSD schools are starting in August this year, do you think this had anything to do with the decision to close the pools earlier? Isn't Glassel Park pool open year round?
Nina Zippay June 27, 2012 at 11:29 PM
Rene - Glassel Park pool is closing in mid-August as well. These pools provide water sports teams for local kids year round, like swim team, water polo, etc. They're also located in under-served communities with populations with less access and ability to drive to other pools farther away. Their programs are awesome, coaches are great. ~ Nina Zippay
Emilie Hill June 28, 2012 at 10:13 PM
John Marshall High School Swim Team uses ONLY Glassell Park Pool for both daily (Tues-Fri) practices and competitions. This closure will make keeping our 55 student swim team alive much more difficult. :( Emilie Hill, Head Marshall Swim Coach

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