Northside residents rally to save their pool

By Kimberly Holmes – bio | email

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19)  - Early this year, we learned at least 19 city pools would be shut down in Cincinnati to help balance the budget.

Last year, nine pools didn't open at all because of low attendance and the high cost of maintenance. Local attorney Stan Chesley joined in the fight to make sure a few pools opened. Chesley led a group raising money to open three pools closed by the city.

This year, McKie pool on Chase Avenue is one of those 19 pools slated to remain closed, unless residents can raise $45,247.31. On Thursday night, Northside families kicked off their efforts, rallying together to try to raise the money needed to open their neighborhood pool.

"It's more than a pool," said Justin Standifer, 12. "It helps us."

So on Thursday night, Northside residents came together to try to help save their pool.

The event was a block party-- complete with live music, a skit, speakers, and entertainment, provided by local hip-hop acts from Elementz, as well as the northside drill teams and other local artists. Neighbors worked hard to try to bring their pool's budget out of the red into the black with the help of some green.

"We know it's a hard time," said organizer Ellen Dienger. "We're going to make our sacrifice and give what we can. We're also going to be asking the city and {Cincinnati Recreation Commission} and all of the big corporations in the city to give what they can. You know, to pay their fair share."

The effort to save the pool is really about saving the kids who use it.

"It's just fun," said Maurice Jackson, 12. "Give us something to do. Keep us off the streets."

"Say if you think you can't do anything," said Standifer. "You have art practices here, you might want to be an artist when you grow up. Do something positive."

Five-hundred Northside residents also signed a petition to show city leaders they care about their pool and recreation center. Organizers said they hope that spirit spreads to others.

"The letters for the businesses just went out not too long ago," said Martha Dourson, president of the Northside Council. "We're asking each business owner in Northside, if they can donate $100. If they did that, we figured we'd have close to $25,000."

Cincinnati City Council member Wendell Young dropped by the event. He promised to deliver the petition to his colleagues.

"I think it's unfortunate that we as a city cannot always find money on our own to do things," said Young. "But we're extremely fortunate that they are people like these folks in Northside and the people in our business communities. We have many people willing to step up and work together to find a way to open the pools."

Neighbors raised $1,500. They have much more to go, but CRC Director of Aquatics, Jincey Yemaya acknowledged their effort.

"Every little bit does help," Yemaya said.

The deadline to raise the money need to open McKie pool and the other city pools is April 15th. CRC leaders said the city needs about half a million dollars.

The CRC will meet with several neighborhood leaders next Wednesday at 6:30pm to get a better idea of communities' fundraising efforts. The meeting is open to the public.

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