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Council members looking at year-round indoor public pools

Mike Desmond

Two Buffalo council members are arguing the city is putting so much money into its outdoor pools for two months use a year that maybe it is time to look at additional indoor pools that would useable year-round.

For two months in summers like this, the city's assortment of pools keeps kids cool and their families calm. The assortment includes spray pools, wading pools, deeper pools and two indoor pools. However, come Labor Day weekend, whatever the temperature, Buffalo city pools will be closing.

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News

That is where Councilmembers Rasheed Wyatt and Joel Feroleto are focusing, in the wake of City Hall's inability to get Shoshone Pool repaired in time for this summer, with a budgeted cost nearing $2 million. Wyatt said maybe indoors is the way to go.

"Myself and Councilmember Feroleto have been looking at this," Wyatt said. "We're going to spend $1.8 million in repairing Shoshone Pool and when you really think about it for a short summer, it really makes sense to use that money in a more effective, efficient way that can be used year-round, a facility that our kids could have access to all year-round, even during the winters."

Feroleto said kids want parks, like the thousand who play baseball in Shoshone.

"The proximity to the subway is great. The Lasalle subway station is directly next to Shoshone Park. You could connect from the subway station to the park. There's a staircase," he said. "That's a wonderful opportunity that provides access, to not just kids in the Delaware District in North Buffalo, but all over the city because of the public transportation component."

Shoshone is actually in Wyatt's district, but is heavily used by residents of the Delaware District. There are no pools in Feroleto's Delaware district, although Feroleto said some district residents pay the fee to use Town of Tonawanda pools.

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News

There are actually a lot of public indoor pools in Buffalo, but they are in city schools and not generally available for use of anyone but students in those schools and are closed at this time of year. That is a long-running dispute, because of union contracts which would impose high costs to have building engineers keep the pools open outside of school hours.

The two councilmembers are raising the issue now because this is the time of year when the city's capital budget is put together, the shopping list of major projects usually paid for by selling bonds. With the capital budget in the early stages, the Brown Administration is considering what to do about pools, more pools than almost any other city.

"I think it's something that we have to look at citywide, because there should be facilities for our young people to go to, not just the community center," said Wyatt. "The community centers aren't up-to-date and haven't kept pace with our young people and activities for seniors. I think to have a multi-use facility will be money well spent."

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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