Vic­tim of its own pop­u­lar­ity

The Compass - - EDITORIAL OPINION -

The Car­bon­ear Swim­ming Pool has been en­joy­ing un­prece­dented pop­u­lar­ity since it re­opened ear­lier this sum­mer af­ter a pro­longed clo­sure for ma­jor up­grades. Reg­is­tra­tion for chil­dren’s swim­ming lessons this fall has been the largest in re­cent mem­ory. In fact, town of­fi­cials can’t re­call when de­mand for swim­ming lessons ac­tu­ally ex­ceeded the pool’s ca­pac­ity to keep up with that de­mand.

Un­der the cir­cum­stances, one would think the Car­bon­ear Town Coun­cil would have rea­son to re­joice.

But there is a catch, which would make any cel­e­bra­tion pre­ma­ture.

“Car­bon­ear chil­dren are be­ing turned away,” and Coun. David Kennedy doesn’t think that’s “one bit fair to the town’s tax­pay­ers who are sub­si­diz­ing the fa­cil­ity with their tax dol­lars.

It’s en­cour­ag­ing to see such a fa­cil­ity gain­ing such pop­u­lar­ity in the re­gion. But if you were the par­ent of a Car­bon­ear child who has been turned away from swim­ming lessons, while other chil­dren from out­side of town were be­ing reg­is­tered, you would un­der­stand their frus­tra­tion.

While town of­fi­cials have of­ten re­ferred to the pool as a “re­gional fa­cil­ity,” Coun. Kennedy dis­putes that claim, sug­gest­ing, “there’s noth­ing re­gional about it.”

Coun. Kennedy makes a good point about the town’s chil­dren be­ing de­prived of the use of a fa­cil­ity that is be­ing sub­si­dized by their par­ents’ tax dol­lars.

How­ever, it’s more dif­fi­cult to deny the re­gional na­ture of a fa­cil­ity like the swim­ming pool.

The fact is the pool is no dif­fer­ent than the shop­ping, mall, hos­pi­tal, Col­lege of the North At­lantic, Sheila NaGeira The­atre, re­gional high school and other fa­cil­i­ties that hap­pen to be lo­cated in Car­bon­ear.

They all serve and de­pend on cus­tomers and users from the broader re­gion, with­out whom, ar­guably, they could not sur­vive. The town should count all its “re­gional” bless­ings. Dep. Mayor Ches Ash also made a valid point when he sug­gested peo­ple from out of town who pay their fees for use of the pool also con­trib­ute fi­nan­cially to it.

Not only that, but any time any­one comes into town to use the pool — es­pe­cially for swim meets and other events — they make a con­sid­er­able con­tri­bu­tion to the lo­cal econ­omy. Just ask any fast food fa­cil­ity!

Aside from the chil­dren’s lessons, we have also no­ticed that many adults, who take ad­van­tage of the adult re­cre­ation, gen­eral lane and other swims of­fered, ac­tu­ally come from out­side the town.

All that said, there’s no doubt hav­ing to turn away your own young cit­i­zens from swim­ming lessons presents a bit of a quandary for coun­cil and pool man­age­ment.

There is no doubt a good ar­gu­ment can be made for im­ple­ment­ing a reg­is­tra­tion sys­tem that gives the chil­dren of the town first crack at swim­ming lessons.

But surely some more eq­ui­table so­lu­tion — such as ex­tended hours of op­er­a­tion — can be found to solve this im­me­di­ate, and hope­fully, short-term prob­lem.

It would be a pity to have to turn any child away from such a health fa­cil­ity, no mat­ter where they hang their swim­ming cap.

– Bill Bow­man

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