On Tuesday afternoon, July 31, thirty-five kids in bathing suits, plus their parents, showed up at the Olympic size pool at the new $168 million Miguel Contreras Learning Complex (one of LAUSD’s very favorite new projects), located at the corner of 3rd and Lucas Streets, near Alvarado. The kids and the parents arrived at poolside hoping to embarrass the mayor, or the school district, or LA City Parks and Recreation—or SOMEBODY—into opening the damn thing for general use so that local children could have a place to swim and play during LA’s driest summer in forty years.
So far, the mayor, the school district, Parks and Rec, et al have—Marx Brothers style—each pointed at each other and claimed they’re the problem.
Somebody please slap these people. (The ones in business suits, not the ones in bathing suits.)
All the pool needs by the way, is a life guard. (Or 7 to 10 life guards, if one is to be exact.) No kidding. That’s it. There are 700 lifeguards employed by the City of Los Angeles. Surely, a few can be spared. (They’re only making $13.08 an hour.)
Or failing that, the city has said it already has the money to hire special guards for the Miguel Contreras pool. Parks and Rec also swears they have money allocated for said guards too.
So why has no one gotten the guards? It’s the Marx Brothers thing again. After six months of negotiations, new objections and new putative costs continue to arise. The latest is something having to do with the need for banks of lockers for the pool to be opened, says a very frustrated Robert Garcia, Executive Director and Counsel for The City Project, the nonprofit advocacy group that’s been trying to help break the logjam.
Right. Can’t safely swim in pool without having metal lockers in the vicinity. Hell, everybody knows that.
Garcia also says says that, out of all the foot-dragging players, Mayor Villaraigosa is the one best positioned to cut through the red tape and get the pool opened.
So mister mayor, Antonio…..hon, can we talk? This has not been a great summer for you, okay? But right now you have a chance to be a hero—on a small scale, yes, but symbolically this could be a Big Deal. Think about it, this neighborhood surrounding the Contreras pool is the most park-poor district in all of LAUSD, and one of the poorest the State of California. No, I’m not kidding, Antonio. Look it up. It’s got one half acre of parks per 1000 residents. That’s bad.
Furthermore, New York City has what’s called a Master Joint Use Agreement between the school district and the city. They’ve had for over half a century. As a consequence, they don’t have these kinds of Pool-related Power-struggles. By contrast, in Los Angeles, LAUSD and the city hardly speak except in the presence of neutral witnesses. You used to have a reputation as the great conciliator. So conciliate, already.
Get the pool open, Antonio. Spin it as an anti-gang strategy, if you must. It gves kids something positive to do besides hanging out in the street. You know, “Nothing Stops a Bullet Like a Pool.” It could be your new motto.
Please. Just do it.