Community pools hard to come by in Oakland

June 20, 2011 6:51:47 PM PDT
This is the kind of weather that makes swimming a great way to cool off. In Richmond, kids are enjoying a brand new community pool. A refreshing resource that is a reminder to some other kids not far away in Oakland about what they no longer have.

For 6-year-old Finn Hiss and his dad Eric, Monday afternoon at the pool was a long time coming.

"We waited about, I guess maybe 25 minutes to get in, and there was about maybe that many people in front of us, half of which left and gave up," says Eric Hiss.

Actually, the wait was a lot longer than that. The Richmond Plunge, a sparkling new indoor public pool, took four years and $8 million to build. Neighbors say it was time and money well spent.

"The kids obviously need somewhere to go and something to do to stay off the streets," said mother Sasha Green.

Green's 11-year-old daughter, Mischa, is already giving it rave reviews.

"I love it," says Mischa. "It's just so much fun. It's so big. There's so much space."

"Last summer they really didn't have anything to do," says Green. "Now they have something to do."

Richmond kids may be too busy enjoying the new pool to notice that their neighbors in Oakland are not so lucky.

"It's just sad I guess," says Janan Luu who found out on Facebook that his neighborhood pool won't be open this summer. Out of Oakland's seven city pools, three, including the Live Oak pool and the brand new Castlemont pool, will be closed due to city budget cuts.

"I think the decision to close these beautiful, very important community facilities is a tragic one," said Oakland High assistant principal Anisa Rasheed.

Rasheed isn't happy with the decision. Like kids in Richmond, she says Oakland kids need something to do to help keep them out of trouble.

"They need to be open," says Rasheed. "They really need to be available to the youth and to the families."

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan says that unless there is a new parcel tax passed, the budget will not include enough money to keep the three Oakland's pools open next year either.

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