Recreation leaders question recent public comments made by Mayor Diane Delaware on the management of the public swimming pool.
During the recent city council meeting, Delaware said the public pool at the Wardell Leach Recreational Complex is not being operated in a safe manner, and it’s costing the city money in insurance fees. She added that a recent study revealed problems with the operating of the pool from pool chemical storage, lifeguard staffing and the pool’s drainage system.
But Wade Yeates, the recreational commission chairman, said he is unaware of any study being conducted.
“In fact, if the Mayor and Board of Aldermen have had a study performed, a report of those findings have not been reported to the Yazoo Recreation Commission,” Yeates said.
Joffre Washington, recreation commissioner, also said he was unaware of any study conducting with the swimming pool’s operation.
“I would personally like to get a copy of the study because, without more detailed information, I'm a bit skeptical of the 'findings' of said study and/or report,” Washington said. “Our lifeguards are a dedicated crew who go above and beyond to provide for the children and adults that use our pool."
Yeates said the storage of pool chemicals, lifeguard staffing and drainage system have not changed from practices of previous years.
“They have been stored in a secure storage area, in the original containers in which they were purchased,” Yeates said. “The lifeguard staffing has remained the same as previous years. The YRC’s policy (unchanged from previous years) of having two lifeguards on duty during hours of operation has not changed. It is my understanding that the pool’s original designed drainage system has not been altered since the Wardell Leach Complex (including the pool) became the responsibility of the YRC.”
Yeates also questioned Delaware’s comment that the pool operation is costing the city money in insurance fees.
“Mayor Delaware also indicated that the pool contributes to the city’s rising insurance rates,” he said. “The YRC has insurance coverage for the facilities under its jurisdiction. I’m not sure why these facilities would even need be included in the city’s insurance coverage.”
Yeates also said “a negative spotlight” has been cast on the management of the city swimming pool following a private pool facility rental. Delaware brought the private party to the public’s attention during a recent city council meeting when she said “they had beer and liquor and outwardly open booties shaking and rumbling and the look of sexual acts in the pool.”
“I can assure the Yazoo community that the YRC has at no time condoned or given anyone permission to act in a manner not in accordance with the YRC facility use policies, YRC park rules, City or County Ordinances, or State Laws,” Yeates said. “Following the aforementioned event, the YRC took action to prevent such questionable actions from taking place in the future.”
"Having the pool open in the summers has always been a positive thing for our community,” Washington added. “I don't understand why there are so many in opposition to our pool. This season we were able to provide a recreational activity to a community desperately in need of one. We had birthday pool parties for children, sports team-reward pool parties along with daily recreational swimming and all were positive. Were there some unwanted things to occur? Yes. But when it was brought to our attention, we quickly addressed our mistakes and corrected them."
Yeates said the city’s public swimming pool is an important part of the community’s recreational environment. He said the opening of the pool was a heavily considered topic among recreational leaders.
Washington said the public pool offers a chance for local children to learn how to swim, which would not be a possibility without a functioning program.
"Not only is swimming recreational, it can be a beneficial, life-saving skill that everyone should possess,” Washington said. “Our lifeguards were able to provide swimming lessons to over 20 children and adults this summer. I love the idea of a splash-pad and am 100 percent in favor of one, but you can't learn how to swim in a splash-pad. I would think that the powers-that-be would understand how important that is and how useful that skill can be. I just wish that we could all come together with positive solutions."
Yeates said the public pool was open this summer thanks to local fundraising efforts.
“Due to detrimental financial contribution cuts over the past few years, not opening the pool this summer was a definite possibility,” Yeates said. “In spite of inadequate funding committed to the YRC, commendable members of our community led by former Mayor Wardell Leach’s fundraising efforts made the pool available to the park patrons of our community. The YRC is committed to providing the best SAFE recreational environment possible to park patrons. That is possible, only with adequate funding and resources.”
Carissa Reed, a local parent, said her two sons spent time swimming in the pool this summer. Not only was it a fun recreational opportunity, but she said it also provided a health benefit for one of her sons.
"My boys loved going to the pool every day,” Reed said. “It was a safe place for them to meet up with their friends and have fun. There's not a lot for them to do in Yazoo City in the summer. If there aren't things to do, teens tend to get in trouble. One of my sons is borderline diabetic, so swimming was the best option to keep him in shape.”