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Spend That Stimulus Cash On What We Need: A Great Public Swimming Pool For St. Louis

fairgrounds pool.jpg
stlouis.missouri.org
The old Faigrounds Pool in north St. Louis is the type of massive swimming hole this community desperately needs.
I realize that it's colder than witches' teats out there today, but all this relief money Missouri is supposed to receive from the federal government has me thinking: Isn't it time we build a great public swimming pool in the City of St. Louis?

Sure, a pool may not pump thousands of jobs into the local economy, but I argue that it could greatly benefit the region. It's downright pathetic that this city of more than 300,000 inhabitants offers its residents just three measly swimming pools (chlorinated cesspools are more like it) in which to find reprieve during the brutal summer months.

A better alternative would be for the city to construct one massive, freshwater pool that might serve as a default public beach for St. Louis. You can find such an example down in Austin, Texas.

I spent a couple years living there earlier this decade and while Austin has quite a few things going for it (great music, a thriving tech industry, excellent Tex-Mex), arguably its best asset is Barton Springs.

bartonsprings1.jpg
flickr.com/photos/pancakejess
Barton Springs
The 3-acre swimming pool (just south of downtown) is fed by a natural spring and was constructed during the nation's other depression (that one back in the 1930s). Seventy years later and Barton Springs continues to serve as an inexpensive gathering place for Austinites of all stripes -- black, white, Hispanic.

As the RFT has noted before, University City's Heman Park Pool is one of the few places in the St. Louis area where blacks and whites socialize together. A similar swimming hole in the city might go a long way to breaking down the racial barriers that so divide St. Louis. Who knows, it might even stop the local "brain drain" by giving people a reason to stick around through our miserable summer months.

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