Council to Consider Wading Pool’s Fate

The city is having second thoughts about shutting down the McIntire Park wading pool, Rachana Dixit writes in today’s Daily Progress, in response to citizen complaints. It’s all because of the The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act, a 2007 bill that actually failed in congress, but passed when lumped into a comprehensive energy bill. The new law requires “anti-entrapment drain covers” in pools and spas, addressing the approximately one death annually from children who get hung up in the drains. Pools around the country are hustling to upgrade their drains to be compliant, since the law went into effect in December. The city figured it’d cost $15,000-$20,000 to make the upgrades. In addition, the ancient pool has a serious leak (the 67,000 gallon pool had 275,000 gallons put into it last year), and it’s going to be awfully close to the planned bypass/McIntire interchange.

Mayor Dave Norris wants to reconsider the whole thing, though, and is putting it up for discussion and a vote at an upcoming City Council meeting. Hawes Spencer, of The Hook, was apparently dubious of the cost of the drain upgrade, and did a little shopping around—he found that the hardware should cost closer to $2,000. That still leaves the questions of the proximity to the interchange and the leak, which is presumably what Council will be sorting out at their next meeting.

28 thoughts on “Council to Consider Wading Pool’s Fate”

  1. It’s the same thing every year at budget time. The city Budget Office identifies things that should be phased out or not funded again and then the groups that are affected come in and whine about it and the Council Members do an about face and relent. I thought the current economy might have bolstered their resolve on some of these issues, but I guess not.

  2. I know that everyone loved the wading pool but it is a major “drain” of financial resources. Unless folks are willing to pay $5-10 per person to swim there it should be closed.

    It is unfortunate that the DP didn’t focus their story on the new Waterpark at Meade that will more than replace the wading pool.

  3. Am I the only one who questions whether or not the wading pool can hold 67,000 gallons? Think about it folks… the average 40 foot fully loaded tractor trailer delivering gasoline to a service station holds 8,000 gallons of fuel. I just don’t don’t think it would take almost 9 tankers of 8,000 gallons each to fill the wading pool.

  4. Regarding the new “water park” at Meade, let’s get one thing completely clear here. They were supposed to replace the pool, NOT create the go-to aquatic experience for the entire city and county. Meade Pool is not the magic bullet that’s going to fix everything. Meade is a small neighborhood park, not a large regional one. There’s only so much space and parking available there, and it’s sited very close to homes. Additionally, we’ve been very direct about saying that the Wednesday Farmer’s Market in the park is a priority for us, and that any pool design must not prevent the market from growing.

    Throughout the entire multi-year, multi-meeting planning process, the neighborhood was very clear about what it wanted at Meade: something small-scale that reflected the modest nature of the existing park and surrounding neighborhood, and that would preserve the green space out front. We were told that only x number of pools would be closing so we wouldn’t have to worry about being inundated by extra traffic and noise, but then late in the process that number increased, putting much more of the burden on Meade. Svetz and Daly were clear on one thing– they told us that not only should the original pool never have been built there due to the park’s small size, in retrospect, they should not have allowed a new huge pool to be put there. The park is just too small to hold an “aquatic experience” of this magnitude.

  5. I know the kids in the neighborhood are excited. My 5yr old and I walked by the site this past weekend. At some point, the kids have to get priority.

  6. Victoria brings up a good point about the Meade site. The increased volume to this new attraction and resulting traffic. The parking lot holds very few cars. People will be parking all up and down Meade Avenue and crossing the street. The way people speed up and down Meade Avenue, I foresee some pretty serious car vs pedestrain accidents right around the corner.

    Before the new pool opens, the city really should consider speed bumps on Meade Avenue. They could possibly save the life of a youngster or two.

  7. Victoria,
    So you want the pool to be a small neighborhood pool but you want the Farmer’s Market to grow? The market poses the same parking problems also but it doesn’t get the same scrutiny.

  8. Webster, maybe someone should propose charging more for the McIntire pool, then? Last I checked, it was 25 cents for city residents (some years ago) and a little more for county. One thing I like about that pool is that it is so cheap — back when I was taking my kids there, it seemed that there were lots of low-income families using it. But if it costs so much to run (which is not a fact that I’ve seen in the stories yet — I’ve only seen the assertion that it would cost too much to bring it up to code), then maybe the fee should be raised. You know, rather than just tearing it down.

  9. Well, the pool at Meade park is a Charlottesville city pool, not a Meade only pool.

    I question the possession of the term “we” and suggest that this is not quite as encompassing as it might appear. Perhaps a canvas of the youth or families might be in order to see if this is as universally true as apparently claimed. Bet the kids are really excited by the farmers market.

    Every city park is busting at the seams, and attempts by one neighborhood to curtail activity, participation, and the sharing of the park for all seems very NIMBY. Antithetical to what Charlottesville is always proclaiming itself to be.

    The pool is 7 days a week. The farmers market? Well it seems to be a big traffic jam of cars and oblivious people wandering about in some organically induced catatonic haze. Cars….wow…oh…cars are driving….wow….on the street…I need to look when I cross in the middle of the street….wow…..

    That Wednesday mess clearly needs to be put in the parking lot of Fashion Square mall.

    At every point the kids get the priority over the helicopter neighborhood adult screaming for people to get of their lawn.

  10. Isn’t Victoria simply saying that upgrading and improving Meade’s facility is one thing, but turning it into THE city summer pool/water park destination is another thing? I don’t hear her saying (hear) DON’T improve the pool, but rather I hear her saying the city told the neighborhood one thing but seems to be telling non-neighborhood city residents, who are seeing *their* neighborhood pools closed, to head on over to Meade Park this summer… that doesn’t seem like NIMBYism to me.

  11. Cecil and Demopublican are correct– that’s exactly what I’m saying. When we were first approached about this, P&R said that the old pool could not be repaired and that we’d probably have to choose between just greenspace or a water feature like a sprayfield. People were pretty bummed about that because everybody liked that old pool. It wasn’t the biggest or brightest, but it was wet and fun and a great way to cool off. After some discussion and a few design workshops, it was decided that a new pool would be built after all. People were asked for their wishes regarding features. Of course people said they wanted a slide and a diving board and all the other good stuff. It was all just suggestions– nobody said it had to have every feature known to mankind. Everybody knew that there were space limitations and so the replacement couldn’t be large-scale. Throughout the process one thing was made most clear: Whatever you do, DO NOT diminish the greenspace. If that means we lose a few bells and whistles on the pool, then that’s okay, just don’t mess with the greenery.

    When the time came to present the final plans, most of us were stunned by both the scale and the expense of the thing. Most disappointing however was that the pool had been moved to the front despite the promises P&R had made to us (the people they called “the stakeholders”). For 8 months a year, the entrance to our neighborhood would be dominated by an empty abandoned pool. If there’s one thing we’re fierce about in the WM, it’s our green spaces. We loved that particular greenspace defining the entrance to our neighborhood.

    At some point all the communication broke down and they decided they were going to whatever they wanted. In retrospect, now that we’ve seen all these pool closings, they must have has an inkling about that, and that’s the real reason the much more expensive pool was pushed so hard.

    danpri, there are regional parks and neighborhood parks. Parks & Rec defines Meade Park as neighborhood and they stressed throughout the design process that the new facility had to reflect that. Meade Park pool has traditionally served downtown, Belmont, MJ, Locust, Woolen Mills etc. Meade is far too small to serve the entire city and county. In the past, there have been numerous problems with people blocking neighbor’s driveways and parking on their lawns, and we assume now that it will only get worse.

    This story, like the pool drain story above, is essentially about bad communication between government and citizens. It’s also about government doing whatever it wants behind the scenes while publicly patting themselves on the back for getting “citizen input.”

    Yes, webster52 and danpri, children everywhere are excited. Children have no concept of proper zoning, fiscal responsibility, or scale and massing. They’d also prefer it to be Christmas every day.

  12. Interesting discussion. Here’s a suggestion… as the wading pool is quite old and in need of repair, put an outdoor wading pool into the design of the YMCA facility (or better yet, built it instead. There are some major issues I see with leaving that pool there. The access and parking are somewhat limited. If whatever McIntire becomes is used by more people (and hopefully it will be) then it may create a dangerous situation at that intersection (not that it isn’t already a bit dangereous).

    It’d also be nice to see them connect the two sides of the park somehow so that it feels more like one park, and so that people could park on one side and then walk to the other. as a side note, the playground could also be quite a bit better. Back in the day, we had a big (real) airplane to play on, and it’s a shame that all kids have to play on now is cheap things two feet tall that do nothing interesting. Why don’t we just put all the kids in plastic bubbles and be done with it?

    I do perhaps have a bit more sympathy for the park staff though, and I certainly don’t see any of the pool situation being some big conspiracy, as some have claimed. I think they really do work very hard to come up with plans to meet a pretty large array of conflicting interests, on a pretty limited budget. There’s pretty much nothing they can do anywhere without it causing some kind of controversy from some group that opposes it.

  13. I say close it. Leaking and dilapidated pools are nothing but a drain on my tax dollars. I have little kids and I drive by this pool thinking that there are so many better swimming options around town.

  14. Meade Park has for all intents and purposes been destroyed by this monstrosity of a pool. I can only imagine the tax burden in the near future for the maintenance and operation of this facility.
    It appears that whenever the city wants to get rid of something, in this case crow pool, wading pool at mcintire and the original pool at meade park, they neglect doing proper maintenance along the way and then come up with the decision to close the facilites because they are too expensive to repair.

  15. I didn’t think the Meade design looked all that bad. Yeah, it’s a little busy with modern aquatic features, but it’ll end up with a healthier stream and better greenspace. I’m not sure it makes much sense to put the passive side against the road, in terms of use. I can understand though why the neighborhood would want the greener side facing them, but really the ballfield was an active and not very green area before.

    I guess one significant problem with the design is that it seems a bit much for a “neighborhood park”. Even if they fixed the wading pool, I and others would be far more likely to drive our kids to meade than McIntire, and that’s bound to create a traffic problem.

  16. The new pool at Meade is going to be a wonderful additon to the city. It will provide a great place for children and adults to swim and play and enjoy life together. It’s within walking distance of many people and will provide kids with something to do in the summer. Many people who live in the neighborhoods close to the park are happy about the pool and can’t wait for it to open.

    Kevin Cox

  17. Can someone please explain what the new Meade Park pool will have, or post a link with more info? I haven’t seen the plans, and the link to the master plan on Charlottesville’s award-winning website doesn’t work.

  18. Kevin, being the pedestrian friendly type person you are, I am surprised at your comments here. After the few dozen parking spaces are full in the park, and people start parking up and down Meade Avenue, how many deaths and serious injuries do you foresee to the people parking on Meade Avenue and crossing the street? The city can put in as many led lighted crosswalks as they want on Meade Avenue, but it isn’t going to slow people down on that roadway. It is a major artery in town and heavily traveled as a shortcut from point A to point B. Every day of my life I have watched people fly up and down Meade Avenue at 35 and 40 mph, and quite a few at what I would esimate to be at least 50 mph.

  19. $15-20K for upgrades? Hell, they spent more than that on a Christmas tree a few years ago. The pool’s always full in the summer when I drive by.

  20. Megan,
    I know a little about what the new pool will be like. It will include a deep area and three lanes for swimming laps and I think it’s going to include a diving board. There will also be a shallow area for young kids and a play area called the lazy river with a spiral slide and “coolbrellas”, which I think are showering waterfall things for kids to run around under.

    There is going to be room for the Wednesday city market.

    I will email Brian Daly and ask him to get the link fixed. There is a drawing of an overhead view of the pool on the City’s Parks and Recreation page.

    Drivers behavior can change. Wait and see. I’ve spoken to the traffic engineer about new crosswalks and they are now on the list. I also expect to see a very visible change in traffic enforcement. Right now Meade is a ridiculous raceway.

    Kevin Cox

  21. Meade is constructed as a 35 MPH road. Every time I drive down it—at least 2-3 days each week—I have to remind myself to drive 25 MPH. My fellow drivers don’t seem to appreciate me holding them up. If the city wants people to drive more slowly on Meade, they should modify the road to make it feel like a 25 MPH road.

    Park Street is a great example of how to do that. People complained mightily after the city constructed those bump-out planters, saying it was awkward. And that’s how we know that it worked. The whole point was to make people uncomfortable so that they’d slow their driving and be more cautious. Besides, drivers shouldn’t be using Park Street as a through street, anyhow.

  22. Thanks Kevin. Sounds like a really nice pool, but I certainly can see why nearby residents are concerned.

  23. Kevin, you seem very sure about the Market. Please tell us exactly where the Wednesday Farmer’s Market will go in the park and how the vendors and customers will be accommodated. Also, exactly how much additional room has been provided for the market to expand, which is what was predicted to happen this summer. How many feet is it from the sidewalk on Chesapeake to the berm surrounding the pool?

    Since no to=scale plan has ever been provided to anyone, and we’ve repeatedly been told that no one has the answers to these questions, I’ll be interested to hear your answer.

  24. Megan,
    Many nearby residents are quite happy that the pool is being built. I live quite close to it myself. When the city first announced that the old pool was going to be demolished neighbors got together and asked the city to replace it. Originally the plan was to do away with the pool and just install sprinklers for kids to run through. After meetings with people in the neighborhood the plans were changed. The pool is going to be accessible to many kids who will walk to it, just like they did to the old one. It’ll be safer for some too, since the sidewalk from the Woolen Mills neighborhood up to the Meade Park neighborhood has been built.

    I think that the pool is going to be an instant success and will probably be crowded all summer. Even with the old pool open, people in the neighborhood would drive across town to Washington Pool because it was nicer. They will probably now stay and use the pool in their neighborhood. Closing the pool at McIntire is also going to add to the crowds at Meade Park. Incidentally the new pool is going to have the same name, Onesty, after a swimming activist who did a lot for swimming in Charlottesville.

    Waldo, other drivers can “remind” themselves to slow down too. I’m sure that the possibility of a ticket will help jar their memories. Bulb outs will take away parking that is needed by both residents and park users. Parking will be increased at Meade but we’ll just have to wait and see if it’s going to be increased enough.

    Kevin Cox

  25. Victoria,

    I saw a drawing that showed the vendors setting up under the trees that’s all I know. I can’t answer your questions. I think you should direct them to Brian Daly. His email is I just emailed him to ask him to fix the link to the Onesty Pool Master Plan link.

    I do hope that the City Market expands and that the city takes some action and finds a permanent home that is large enough. It should have happened a long time ago.

    Kevin Cox

  26. The Meade Park situation is no surprise to me. The city asked for input, pretended to listen, and then did what it wanted. It’s often that way. The meetings have lots of pretty pictures of how things will look, enough people get on board to make the project inevitable, and then ground is broken. By the time any realizes they’ve been shafted, it’s too late to do anything.

    What happened to the wetland remediation? I doubt if there was anyone in City Hall who ever expected that to happen, but it was there at one point selling the project. My suspicion is that it was only there to make everyone feel good about building on a open lot. We would be losing something, but look what we would be gaining, a nice environmentally sound park space with a cleaned up creek. Who could deny the value of that? Once people see images like that, they trust the project will turn out well and start to pay less attention to what’s really happening.

    Now we have an oversized pool which turns a neighborhood park into a regional destination, an undersized parking lot, and no wetland. I fully expect the expanded parking when it comes to be situated right where the drawings once showed idyllic images of aquatic vegetation. It will be interesting to see how long it takes for a new building project to be proposed for the back part of the park. I don’t expect much of a wait. Of course, there will be neighborhood input on that project too…

  27. Why don’t we locate the city market on market street? Now that there are two mall crossings, it could go between them, closing market street for a few blocks & a few hours every week & could expand into Lee Park as needed.

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