Letter to the Editor of Alexandria Gazette Packet

In response to the Alexandria Gazette Packet‘s Feb. 5 article about the pool at the Fillmore development, we sent the editor the following letter

Dear Editor:

On the front page of your February 5, 2015 edition, you covered the story of the unfortunate swimming pool situation at the proposed Fillmore development in Alexandria.  The prospect of the apartment complex providing pool access to certain residents but not all residents caused major concern to our City Council, as it rightfully should.  In your article, there didn’t seem to be agreement on a satisfactory solution.

The group that I represent, Advocates for Alexandria Aquatics (AAA), would like to suggest that the developer of the Fillmore donate the funds set aside for the contested pool at the development to the construction of the new pool at Chinquapin.  AAA is a group of private citizens working with the City to improve aquatics facilities throughout the City, with particular emphasis on a new 50-meter pool at Chinquapin that will provide more than 20 lanes of new swimming capacity to Alexandria residents and allow the existing pool at Chinquapin to be used for more family-oriented recreation.  All future residents of the Fillmore would have access to a year-round state-of-the-art swimming facility.  Given the City’s policy to discount admission charges based upon need, all residents at the Fillmore would be able to use the new pool.

The same City Council that has concerns over the Fillmore pool were the ones that authorized funding for the new Chinquapin pool, as well as for other pools throughout the City.  They saw an aquatics program that was in decline and the very real prospect of all but one of our pools closing within the next five years because of decaying infrastructure. They recognized the health, wellness and safety benefits of a renewed aquatics program that would not only offer recreational opportunities to City residents, but would also provide life-saving swimming instruction to our citizens.  It would benefit all ages of Alexandrians from toddlers just learning about the water to seniors taking water aerobics classes to stay fit and active.  As proper stewards of Alexandria’s finances, the Council asked the private sector to share in the cost, and the private sector will need to contribute $2.5 million in order for the new Chinquapin pool to be built.  We as a group are committed to making that happen.

We welcome a dialogue between AAA, the City Council and staff and the Fillmore developer to find a way to transform a difficult situation into a winning solution by contributing to an amenity that will benefit all residents of our community. Hopefully, this approach will serve as an example to other developers in the City who, by their financial support for the construction and improvement of aquatics facilities in Alexandria, will make for a better Alexandria.

Bill Rivers
Chair, Advocates for Alexandria Aquatics

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