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Taveras Under Fire on Davey Lopes Pool Again

Saturday, May 03, 2014

 

The closed Davey Lopes pool last summer.

Supporters of reopening the Davey Lopes Recreation Center pool in Providence are claiming the Taveras administration is stalling -- and playing politics -- with the necessary pool repairs needed for the projected opening date of July 1 this summer.

The pool, which was closed last summer by the city to strong community outcry, was recommended last month to be reopened this summer by the newly established swim commission, but so far no work has been undertaken -- while the commission recommended that work begin by May 1.  

"I'm worried about timing," said Providence City Councilman Davian Sanchez. "Money's not the problem -- we've got the Black Contractors Association willing do do the work for free. Doreen Costa has an engineer willing to work for free. The problem now is that the process runs smoothly. I feel like city's stalling, but they keep assuring me they're on track."

State Representative Costa, who last year offered the services of a local engineer volunteering to work for free, said he has tried to contact the city, but to date has been rebuffed.

"My engineer tried to call the parks and recreation director and has left seven messages and never a call back," said Costa. "My engineer was at the pool on Thursday going over final plans. This is all for free. I also met with members of the Black contractors association and they are ready to go and HIGHLY qualified to do the job."

"If they want this pool to be open for the summer, work should have been started by May 1, as recommended by the pool commission," said Costa.  "'We've got free labor ready to go. This is looking like politics all over again."

Recreation Committee: Pool Opening on Target

The crowd at a press conference held by Councilman Sanchez at the Davey Lopes pool last year.

City Councilman Kevin Jackson said that the next steps in the pool reopening process lay with the city.

"Alan Sepe has it in his hands," said Jackson of the city's Director of Operations. "The city's engineer has said this will cost $100,000. It's going to have to be an emergency bid."

Jackson noted that the city was using currently using its own chosen engineer to determine the scope of work -- and that the consulting costs most likely would come in under $5,000, which meant it  didn't have to go out to bid.

Of a contractor, Jackson said, "We need to find someone who works on pools, and that's their specialty. It believe the work can be done in 14 days.   We do need to realize that pool specialists are going to start getting busy for the summer however."

The Mayor's office did not respond to request for comment whether the pool would open on time, or at all

When asked if he thought the Black Contractors Association could do it for free -- jut needing the costs of supplies -- Jackson said, "My preference is that we get an expert in pools."

Deep End in Question

Community activist Leah Williams Metts, who last year helped spearhead the community effort to reopen the Davey Lopes pool, said she was optimistic that pool will reopen this summer -- but is concerned about reports she is hearing.

"I'm planning on a celebration, tee-shirts, the whole bit on opening day, as far as this concerned," said Metts. "I just want it open and the kids in, and this done and behind us."

However, "I've heard from Wayne Montague that the city's looking to close the deep end," said Metts. "I'm going out of my mind on this -- that's where kids learn the necessary skills for swimming, most importantly how to tread water."

Metts continued, "I think this is the city trying to cover up for not properly maintaining the pool all this time. It's not just the work on the wall, it's the drain," said Metts, who added if the pool doesn't reopen, she was going to "take the story national."

"I'll reach out to Al Sharpton, to Jesse Jackson," said Metts of the galvanizing issue. "For little old Providence, we have some major connections, trust me. "

Metts posed the question as to why the city would be spending money on an engineer and contractors, if they were being offered for free. "Why are they paying someone when we have people ready to go? i fee like I've got everyone's support on this, except the city."

Sanchez Calls for More Disclosure

In a release sent out on Friday, Sanchez announced he was introducing an ordinance calling for greater transparency in city government.

“Ensuring that our local government operates in an open and transparent manner is one of my top priorities,” said Councilman Sanchez. “While the City has made great strides in recent years, more can still be done to improve public access to information.” Sanchez pointed to the new Open Meetings Portal and the work of the Open Providence Commission as examples of recent successes making the City more transparent.

The ordinance would require a wide range of public information to be posted on the City’s website. “Some of this information is has already been added to the City website through the Open Meetings Portal,” explained Sanchez, “but I still believe it is necessary to codify in law that this information must be available online and must be kept up to date.”

 

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