Car­bon­ear chil­dren de­nied swim­ming lessons

Coun­cil­lors sug­gest chil­dren of tax­pay­ers should have pri­or­ity

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY BILL BOW­MAN

The Car­bon­ear Swim­ming Pool has a good com­pla i n t . S i n c e it re­opened in July af­ter bei n g c l o s e d f o r s ix months for ex­ten­sive ren­o­va­tions and up­grades, the pool has ap­par­ently been un­able to ac­com­mo­date the large numbers of chil­dren who want to reg­is­ter for swim­ming lessons.

The only prob­lem is some of the chil­dren be­ing left high and dry are from Car­bon­ear.

Coun. David Kennedy has re­ceived com­plaints sev­eral par­ents and res­i­dents, andraised the is­sue at the Sept. 12 meet­ing of coun­cil.

“ Car­bon­ear chil­dren are be­ing turned away, and I don’t think that’s one bit fair,” Kennedy said, es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing the fact that Car­bon­ear tax­pay­ers sub­si­dize this fa­cil­ity to the tune of $150,000 a year.

While he said he has no prob­lem with hav­ing the town sub­si­dize the fa­cil­ity, Kennedy said he does have a prob­lem when chil­dren from out­side the town take pref­er­ence over those whose par­ents are help­ing pay for the sub­sidy through their tax dol­lars.

Part of the prob­lem, a ccord­ing to Kennedy, lies in the way names are reg­is­tered for lessons, in al­pha­bet­i­cal or­der, re­gard­less of where the chil­dren come from.

He pointed out that some com­mu­nity pools, like the one in Mount Pearl, do give their own cit­i­zens the op­por­tu­nity to reg­is­ter first, be­fore open­ing reg­is­tra­tion up to chil­dren from other mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties.

When asked how many Car­bon­ear chil­dren may have been turned away, Kennedy replied he didn’t know be­cause those numbers were not recorded.

Aside from the an­nual sub­sidy, the Town of Car­bon­ear also bor­rowed money to pay its share of the $1 mil­lion ren­o­va­tion project.

“Peo­ple in Car­bon­ear are putting a lot into this pool, but the chil­dren from Car­bon­ear (are not get­ting full ben­e­fits)” Kennedy sug­gested.

Re­gional fa­cil­ity

De­spite the fact the pool is of­ten re­ferred to as a re­gional fa­cil­ity, Kennedy as­serted: “ It’s not a re­gional fa­cil­ity — there’s noth­ing re­gional about it.”

Deputy Mayor Ches Ash wanted to know, “ is this an on­go­ing con­cern? It never came up last year.”

The deputy mayor said the town doesn’t have any pol­icy on giv­ing pref­er­ence to cit­i­zens us­ing the pool be­cause it has never seen the need for one.

But, he agreed, “ there is a prob­lem if we can’t take care of all our chil­dren. We need to take an­other look at it and find a way to ac­com­mo­date them.”

He felt that those from out of town who pay their fees to use the pool do con­trib­ute fi­nan­cially to it.

Town ad­min­is­tra­tor Cyn­thia Davis said this is the first year she could re­call de­mand for swim­ming lessons ex­ceed­ing ca­pac­ity. Coun. Ed. Goff said, “ we got a multi-mil­lion dol­lar fa­cil­ity in there and we got to make more use of the time, even if that means ex­tend­ing the pool op­er­at­ing times for longer pe­ri­ods.” All the over­head ex­penses are still there, he added.

The fall reg­is­tra­tion for swim­ming lessons of­fers classes seven days-a-week, in­clud­ing 61 group lessons and 61 pri­vate lessons ac­com­mo­dat­ing some 415 chil­dren. Classes be­gan Sept. 5 and will wind up Oct. 30.

The pool nor­mally shuts down op­er­a­tions at 8 p. m. And there was also some talk of ex­tend­ing hours of op­er­a­tion on week­ends to ac­com­mo­date all those who wish to reg­is­ter for swim­ming lessons.

Tra­di­tion­ally, reg­is­tra­tion for swim­ming lessons usu­ally peaks in Septem­ber and Oc­to­ber, and drops off again in Novem­ber and De­cem­ber.

Davis was di­rected to speak with Rob But­ton, the town’s tourism and re­cre­ation di­rec­tor, about the is­sue.

“ He should be here tonight to an­swer the ques­tions coun­cil has about the pool op­er­a­tion,” said Coun. Ge­orge Butt.

Davis de­fended the re­cre­ation di­rec­tor’s ab­sence, sug­gest­ing it was never a re­quire­ment for the re­cre­ation di­rec­tor to at­tend all pub­lic coun­cil meet­ings.

“Maybe it should be,” Butt replied.

Lights out

Still with re­cre­ation, Coun. Ed Goff took a dim view of the fact that four lights on the town’s soft­ball field are out and, ap­par­ently, have been out for some time.

Goff felt it was “out­ra­geous that we (town) ap­par­ently don’t have an in­ven­tory of lights” to be used as re­place­ments when they burn out.

“ How come we haven’t got no lights in stock?” asked Mayor Sam Slade, adding, the Car­bon­ear Mol­son Men’s Slo-pitch soft­ball league, who use the field, are now into their fi­nals.

Sug­gest­ing that by the time they are fi­nally re­placed, they may as well be called, “Christ­mas lights,” Goff said, “ this is just not good enough.”

Skate­board park

The in­creased use of the park­ing lot around the Con­cep­tion Bay Re­gional Com­mu­nity Cen­tre and the new park­ing lot out­side the re­fur­bished Rail­way Sta­tion by skate­board­ers revved up some dis­cus­sion about the need for a new skate­board park.

Re­spond­ing to a call from a cit­i­zen that skate­board­ers were us­ing the War Me­mo­rial Park to prac­tice their sport, Mayor Slade said, “ when I went down to in­ves­ti­gate, I got an ear­ful.

“ If we can get the kids off our park­ing lot and War Me­mo­rial, I’d like to see it done,” he said.

The es­ti­mated $ 40,000 cost for a new skate­board park was de­scribed as “ex­ces­sive.”

Slade said, “ I think it is some­thing we need and it would be worth ev­ery dime.”

Meal plant con­cerns

Coun. Kennedy raised con­cerns about the state of an old fish­meal (of­fal) plant at the east end of the Lower South­side Road.

“ I don’t know if it’s barred up,” said Mayor Slade, but there have been re­ports of kids in­side the build­ing play­ing hockey, “and the roof is not sta­ble.”

If some­thing should hap­pen to that roof, “ we could have a catas­tro­phe on our hands,” Mayor Slade warned.

He sug­gested coun­cil con­tact the own­ers, “ first and fore­most, to have it barred up so it’s not ac­ces­si­ble. And if they are not go­ing to do any­thing with it, it should be torn down.”

Ash sug­gested the town should have its mu­nic­i­pal en­force­ment of­fi­cer in­spect the premises to de­ter­mine its con­di­tion and make a rec­om­men­da­tion to coun­cil.

Van­dal­ism

Mayor Slade is plead­ing with who­ever is re­spon­si­ble for van­dal­iz­ing the flow­er­ing crabap­ple trees set along the town’s board­walk on the Beach to leave them alone.

“ If caught, they will be pros­e­cuted to the full ex­tent of the law,” he said.

He said some­body was caught up on the roof of the gazebo, pulling off shin­gles.

The main en­trance to this old meal plant on Car­bon­ear’s south­side was barred off with large boul­ders pro­hibit­ing ve­hic­u­lar traf­fic from en­ter­ing, when The Com­pass vis­ited the area last week. But gap­ing holes were clearly vis­i­ble at the east end of the build­ing. The town coun­cil has con­cerns for the safety of chil­dren en­ter­ing the build­ing.

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