What happens when members from a motorcycle club, various trade unions, and community groups conspire with an elected official? Not as criminal enterprise, as one might first think. Instead, this group helped save summer for hundreds of Toledo children who will use the pools the city was too broke to open.
Toledo City Council unanimously voted last week to approve a $73,700 budget that will allow Wilson Pool to open along with Navarre, Pickford, Roosevelt, and Willys pools, and the splash pad at Savage Park. The money to open and operate Wilson Pool will be taken from the revenues recently received from a police vehicle auction; the other pool budgets already have been approved.
It’s been a long journey; Toledo officials have been confounded about how to open the pools since March. Mayor D. Michael Collins, reacting hastily, declared the pools dead after it was discovered that some of the aquatic centers were in disrepair, which could have cost the city about $50,000 to repair.
Toledo City Council President Paula Hicks-Hudson should be applauded for her efforts to ensure that at least five city pools can open this summer, along with the splash pad. She reached out for help, an appropriate request from a city struggling to stay afloat fiscally.
And the unions answered. Toledo’s United Association of Plumbers, Steamfitters & Service Mechanics, Local 50, Laborers Local 500, and Plasterers and Cement Masons Local 886, donated time, labor, and materials to repair the pools. Toledo’s Buffalo Soldiers, a motorcycle group largely made up of law enforcement retirees, and the Stickney Community Group, composed of many Woodward High School alumni, also stepped up to donate their time and money.
“It was a communitywide effort,” Ms. Hicks-Hudson told The Blade’s editorial page.
It’s important for the pools to be accessible in most city neighborhoods. The addition of the Wilson Pool will serve a segment of residents in North Toledo.
Donated concrete repairs have started. The Jamie Farr Pool in North Toledo also may become operational in the next four to five weeks, Lisa Ward, Mayor Collins’ spokesman, said.
Resolving budgetary issues surrounding the city’s pools should serve as a broader lesson for Toledoans: Look what happens when the community comes together to work toward a positive common cause. The results can be as cool as dipping your toes in the water on a hot summer day.