Op-Ed

Aquatics for Lexington

The aquatic center at Southland Park is one of four operated by the city in the summer.
The aquatic center at Southland Park is one of four operated by the city in the summer. 2010 File Photo

The public was invited to participate in meetings or surveys on Lexington’s pool and aquatic needs. While there was opportunity to hear suggestions, the overall collection of ideas should have been shared via the Internet.

Knowledge should not be hidden and better ideas may be stimulated. Again there was a pretense of public participation – as with the too-costly Lyric Theater renovations and controlled hearings for asinine proposals for Rupp Arena renovations – and a waste of our time and money.

My observations:

Multiple splash parks are needed. Splash parks do not have to have lifeguard staff and are comparatively easy to maintain. Maybe we could have quite a few in diverse parts of town with water-spraying cartoon characters designed by local artists. Charging small entry fees to hire youth for summer jobs could keep splash parks clean and safe.

Building year-round, indoor facilities should be a combined effort with public schools’ physical education departments and with local businesses. Competitive lanes would be available for practices and competitive school swimming for high schools. Year-round lessons on simply floating would help kids beginning to swim. Swimming would become safer and more enjoyable for all as well as produce healthier bodies and spirits. Free school lifeguard training could provide training for year-round jobs and better pay to youth.

Maybe we could build an adjacent entertainment facility like Great Wolf Lodge in Mason, Ohio. That lodge is proof of year-round indoor demand, drawing away many Lexingtonians. Lexington could build the best indoor/outdoor model facility in the nation with better designs, art, architecture and engineering ideas.

Businesses could use such indoor recreational facilities for entertaining. Motels and hotels could invest to gain reduced or free ticket offers to give to their guests. Federal and state monies should be pursued.

Look at Williamsburg's funding for its water park. How about local food trucks selling healthy food nearby for pool guests with food tickets bought through the pool to benefit the pool and the vendors?

Let us be creative to bring better attention to Central Kentucky.

In cooperation with the University of Kentucky, aquatic activities and competitions should be increased for canoes and kayaks at Jacobson Park and on the Kentucky River to bringing serious rowing and oarsmen here.

Don Pratt is a community activist and former candidate for the Urban County Council.

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