LAFAYETTE, La. — I'm standing by the Girard Park pool, right now you can tell it's unswimmable, it's messy it's dirty, it's yuck! Guess what? the mayor has a proposed budget out there, Mayor Guillory and two million of that proposed budget would go toward fixing things like this.
Public pools in Lafayette and only one of them MLK is open this summer. Two others--- Girard Park--- unsightly, extreme algae, unswimmable at least for most; and O.J. Mouton near Louisiana Avenue and Lafayette Municipal Golf Course? The same words: unsightly, extremely dirty, extreme algae, unswimmable.
"There have always been some maintenance issues at our pools," says Lafayette Parks and Recreation Director Hollis Conway. "O.J. Mouton is one of the very few public Olympic pools in the state. Incredible pool, but it was built a lonnnnnngggg time ago. And it's the same thing with Girard pool. There's a leak, I think under the diving board and that's caused some problems."
Mayor Josh Guillory's plan for spending $85 million from the American Rescue Plan Act has roughly two million set aside to fix those public facilities. Conway says the biggest portion of those dollars would be aimed at the olympic-sized Mouton Pool off Mudd Avenue. "It has this big aluminum bottom that has some problems," explains Conway, "and I think it was two concrete pools, put together, that was always leaking, from what I understand you had to keep water running in there, because it was losing water."
But why bother? Why spend time and dollars on neighborhood swimming pools?
"This is like an escape," smiles MLK Pool Lifeguard Hillary Estrada. "This community pool is where these kids can come and be truly safe. And truly be little kids and enjoy like a childhood, activity… outside of this gate? They have to be grown-ups."
And Conway says focusing on these pools--first shut down a year ago-- is also about focusing on quality of life.
"Because it's part of a larger picture and offering our quality of life and what we want to do with our park department. And we just thought, with them being shut down, now is the time to address these issues and fix the pools and have them ready for hopefully next summer."
Hearings on the proposed budget begin August 5th, and after that, there'll be, no doubt, plenty of other discussions. But, if all goes according to plan, Girard Park pool, Mouton pool, things could be looking good for next summer.
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