While I applaud Tom Chittenden’s call for a public swimming pool (Councilor Corner, July 25), there’s a critical component to the larger discussion that makes his suggestions far more viable and more likely to eliminate the need for burdening South Burlington taxpayers.
We are a swim family. Two of our children swim competitively under the auspices of New England Swimming/USA Swimming. One of our children swims “long course,” which invariably requires weekend after weekend of traveling, living out of hotels/suitcases, dining out, etc.
And why is that so?
Because there isn’t a competition long course swimming pool within 100 miles that’s available to the dozens of swim teams in our region.
A wisely designed pool/facility would not only allow South Burlington to meet the year-round recreational needs of the community, but it could also create a much-needed venue for competitive swimming in New England while giving our local businesses/economy a boost from the hundreds of swim families who regularly attend these meets and who would stay in our hotels, eat in our restaurants, fill their tanks at our gas stations, shop in our stores and on and on.
And to be clear, the meets themselves generate respectable revenues for the hosts. Having attended dozens of meets at venues throughout New England, I have observed the tens of thousands of dollars changing hands at each of these events for parking, meet entry fees, admissions, concessions and the like.
And again, that doesn’t begin to account for the countless thousands spent at local businesses when the families of 500 swimmers roll into town for a three-day swim meet.
And there’s no reason we need to go it alone. The University of Vermont lacks a men’s swimming program principally because its current swimming facility is inadequate. A joint venture between the city and the university would allow both parties to satisfy their needs while sharing the costs. And in terms of project development, USA Swimming has a program that assists communities interested in developing swimming facilities.
Our community absolutely needs a public swimming facility to serve the recreational needs of the community as a whole. Although built around a short-course pool, the Upper Valley Aquatic Center facility in White River Junction that Tom Chittenden referenced in his piece serves as an excellent model. (Truth be told, the UVAC facility houses two swimming pools and a water park that could just as well have been designed as a single, larger pool). A properly planned/developed swimming facility could put our town on the map for a sport that is truly a way of life for mine and hundreds of other families in Vermont and neighboring states.