Wednesday, August 22, 2001

City to build new pool, playground complex in Over-the-Rhine

By Gregory Korte
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Cincinnati will spend about $1.7 million to build a swimming pool and playground in Over-the-Rhine — a complex that could be the model for the city's 47 other pools.

        The Hanna Playground and Pool will get a complete overhaul starting this fall, and open next Memorial Day as the city's premier aquatic facility, said Cincinnati Recreation Commission Director Jim Garges.

        The pool will have a wade-in shallow end and water slides in the deep end, Mr. Garges said. The design will help small children, the disabled and the elderly use the pool without having to use ladders.

        The 1.33-acre complex, on West McMicken Street, will also have a basketball court with a hard surface, a bathhouse to replace the portable toilets, and all new playground equipment.

        Funding the project will be $985,000 from the Otto Armleder Trust, $500,000 from the federal Urban Park and Recreation Recovery Program, and $200,000 from the city.

        Mayor Charlie Luken helped announce the project Tuesday with a backdrop of a half-dozen children from the Three Square Music Foundation, which uses music to persuade kids to stay away from drugs and violence.

        “Obviously, as you can see from these bright and smiling faces, this playground will be well-used,” Mr. Luken said.

        Cincinnati has more city pools per resident than any other city in the country. But those pools are getting old and expensive to run and maintain, with the average age of a city pool at 35 years, city officials said.

        The city hasn't built a pool since it did so in Camp Washington 15 years ago.

        The city is evaluating what to do with all of those pools. As part of that plan, the Recreation Commission is seeking community support to close some smaller and older pools, combining them with new pools nearby, Mr. Garges said.

        As in the Hanna project, the city needs private-sector help to fix up other city pools.

        “Once the community sees what this pool can do, I think everybody will want the same thing,” Mr. Garges said.

        Carrie Johnson, president of the Over-the-Rhine Community Council, was ecstatic at the news Tuesday.

        “It means so much to this neighborhood,” she said. “It will be a great, great improvement.”


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