Public pools have been around since the turn of the last century. I am an Okie, so it kills me to say this, but the Deep Eddy Concrete Pool in Austin, Texas may be the first in-ground public pool in the United States. Deep Eddy Pool is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Maybe our pool can be a national landmark one day? I can see the sign in my mind’s eye, “Luke Rainey swam here on July 4, 2016”. Ok, Luke’s my grandson…

Seriously, we should want our pool to last, and not only have a long life span but look as good as possible for the next 30 years. How do we do that and what are we willing to pay as a neighborhood to make that happen?

I have talked to a number of our neighbors about the subject of our pool and the turning point of reinvestment decisions we are going to have to make as a neighborhood. I am discovering that this is a controversial subject and people generally have one of three strong opinions that I would represent as follows:

  1. Let’s do what we have to do and assess the neighborhood accordingly to bring the pool and related property up to a higher standard. Let’s, however, have a plan that is long-term.
  2. We do not use the pool. We would like to see it “go the way of the earth” and we would like to see no further significant investment in the pool. The idea here is to eventually bury the pool.
  3. Having a pool is fine but we are less concerned with “looks and a higher standard”. Let’s invest minimally and only where there is a “must” situation and not worry so much about aesthetics.

To be clear, my bias is with returning the pool to a higher standard and investing to keep it there. This is my opinion and we would welcome the opinions of others and any supporting details that should be shared.

My opinion is based on research which suggests the following:

  • It is not perfectly clear that a community pool, in and of itself, adds value to an individual home in that same community. However, the presence of a pool can be a deciding factor for a buyer. Pools attract younger families which are key to keeping a neighborhood vibrant and healthy. There is some evidence that supports higher home values where there are community pools. The National Recreation and Parks Association revealed that home prices near a park or public recreation center are nearly $8,000 higher than equivalent homes in other locations.
  • In his  2009 book, “Contested Waters: A Social History of Swimming Pools in America,” author Jeff Wiltse cites a study by the Chicago School of Civics and Philanthropy, which found that on average, neighborhoods with community pools and other recreational facilities see juvenile delinquency rates reduced by 28 percent. There is an argument that our youth might find other less desirable places to “hang-out” if we did not have a pool.
  • There is an overall trend of closing community pools. Since January 2009, two thousand pools have closed in the United States. We should consider that “doubling-down” on the Bridge Pointe pool might be a significant future competitive advantage for our neighborhood which could result in upward pressure on home values.
  • Perhaps the greatest reason to keep our pool alive and healthy is that a vital skill is taught there. As opposed to say, tennis courts, a community pool provides the setting for learning a potentially life-saving skill. As the well-known African-American swimmer Sabir Muhammad once told an ESPN reporter, “No one dies from not being able to play basketball.”

The fact is, we all signed up for a pool when we purchased our homes in Bridge Pointe whether we were a “founding” buyer in 1986 or we just closed on our home yesterday. It is part of our purchase of a lot and home in this neighborhood. We are all subject to the same community property obligations regardless of our age, how long we have lived in Bridge Pointe, whether or not we have children, or dare to be seen in a swimsuit!

Still, there is plenty of room for interpretation regarding how we implement a strategy to support our pool. I know Jason and our board would welcome your thoughts. Feel free to send us an email and share your opinions and ideas. Any email coming to me will be shared with Jason, our Board of Directors, and the 5-Year Planning Committee.

Pat Rainey–5YP Committee Chair, 816-507-8244, patj.rainey@gmail.com