Carbonear children denied swimming lessons
Councillors suggest children of taxpayers should have priority
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.