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Politics & Government

Policy Change Will Increase City Pool Access for Low-Income Youth

Photo courtesy Citiparks, City of Pittsburgh

Swimming pools are the quintessential summer hangout for kids, but when Pittsburgh City Councilwoman Theresa Kail-Smith found out children were being turned away because they didn’t have the right kind of pool passes, she decided to take action.

City Council Tuesday unanimously passed a bill that will repeal a city policy preventing kids with pool passes received through youth groups and other organizations from using city pools during evenings and weekends.

Kail-Smith said she wasn’t even aware of the policy until some of her constituents complained.

“It may have always been the case, but it was never enforced,” Kail-Smith said. “I think in the past people have recognized the importance of keeping kids busy and off the streets.”

The measure will also remove a regulation that requires youth groups to provide adult chaperones to act as supplementary lifeguards. Normally, only children under six years of age must be accompanied by an adult.

“Some of (these groups) are paying a lot of money for these passes, and we need to do our service and provide them the same benefits that everyone would get when they go to the pool,” said City Councilman Corey O’Connor.

City spokesperson Tim McNulty said youth groups, schools, and other organizations can purchase youth pool passes for $10/piece, a $5 discount over the normal price.

According to the legislation, requiring youth groups to provide additional chaperones places “an unfair burden” on organizations that provide summer programming and “safe alternatives for children in many low- and moderate-income neighborhoods.”

Kail-Smith said crime data she obtained from the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police suggests that the more recreational opportunities exist in a neighborhood, the lower the youth crime rate.

“We want our kids to enjoy the pools and we want to make sure that our neighborhoods are safe,” Kail-Smith said. “If there’s a way we can do those things together, let’s do those things together.”