Upham's Corner Online

"Closing the Mason Pool - Disingenuous Politics"

Posted: June 25, 2011     Nancy J Conrad

Mason PoolClosing the Mason Pool doesn't Make Sense.  

For the attendees at the meeting on Thursday, June 23, 2011, the answer was a resounding "NO!"  Parents of children who attend the Mason School and residents who actively use the pool are perplexed by a City of Boston decision. "It doesn't make any sense," they say, "to close the Mason Pool." 

Councilor Tito Jackson, Rep. Nick Collins as well as members from Rep. Heniquez' office and Councilor-at-Large Connolly's office were present to lend their support.  The group shared information and strategies and several people brought up facts about the proposed closing which demonstrate a clear lack parity for both the Mason Pool/School compared with other similar schools in the BPS system.

Politics, lack of out reach and advertising by the Boston Center for Youth and Families (BCYF), City priorities, and a lack of understanding of how important the Mason Pool is to the overall education of students at the Mason School - these are some of the concerns that were raised at the meeting.

More information about the Mason School.  https://sites.google.com/site/masonpilot/home

Parents Up-in-Arms
Two parents speak up
Community Support Youth letter, 150+ signatures, YouTube video
Politics"We don't need the money . . . Oh, we do."  Disingenuous? Political games?
Parity & BPS Other BPS schools have community pools and none is considered for closing.  What's the difference?
Current Status
Some reduction in service scheduled
Photos
Meeting photos and the pool

Tanushree Barua When I selected the Mason School for my son Tukhar who is now six years old, I knew it would not have an auditorium and I knew it would not have a gym, but I also knew they had a pool. 

Part of the curriculum is to teach kids how to swim The meeting tonight is about closing the pool and not having it open anymore.  I want to see it remain an active part of the school.  Tukhar is a beginner swimmer and we are a member of the Mason Pool.  Next year when he is in first grade at the school, he will be able to use the pool as a student. 

My son has asthma. He has an allergy to dust and cold.   His asthma is triggered by allergies.  The doctor has said swimming is very good for his heart and his asthma.   This is indoor swimming and I love the pool.  I am so grateful that the school is able to give him the time to learn how to swim.
Katherine Jenkins I have two children who have been going to the Mason school for several years - two boys.  Next year Amar will be in first grade and will start swimming lessons.  Bernard will be in fourth grade, has had a couple years of lessons and is now an active swimmer.  Today he won a swimming award.  

Swimming has been good for both their mental and physical health.  There really isn't a divide between the two.  If they don't have physical activity, and they don't have an outlet, then they will not be settled mentally.  They won't be in balance. 

The existence of the pool was a contributing factor to why I chose the Mason School.  The school definitely has a lot of good qualities but if there were no pool, I  might not have chosen to enroll my children here.

Kevin Merry is an active supporter of the Mason Pool.  "I use the pool lot.  I've checked out other pools in Dorchester and there is no other pool that is cleaner and better maintained than the Mason Pool."  Kevin loves the pool so much that he has managed to accumulate more than 150 signatures on a petition regarding the Mason Pool.

Tito Jackson talked about the young people who wrote him a letter. "I was at the Mason Pool earlier today to thank the young people for their involvement in civic engagement.  They sent me a really long letter asking that the pool not be closed."

There's even a video about the Mason Pool created by a fan who examined the quality of three local pools and who shows us the pristine quality at the Mason Pool.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nrB3mXtqMzA

Nick Collins tells the story of how he and Rep. Carlos Henriquez were providing funding for the City community centers to make sure they didn't close but the City rejected the money, then turned around and said the centers had to close for lack of funding.

"Disingenuous," he said at the meeting.  Here are some details of what he told the group.

We were working on our budget in the state House of Representatives.  That includes allocation of local aid which is for teachers, police, firefighters etc.  We were able to put together additional amendments that sponsor programs, community centers, etc. 

I was working with the City to get them a lot of their public safety dollars, for example for the fire department.  Rep. Henriquez and I decided to allocate money here for the community centers so the city can't close them.  Because if it's about the money, then if they are funded, the City won't be able to close them.  The money I got for the fire department was $16 million.  The $250,000 for the community centers was nothing.

We filed the amendment and then I got a call from staff at the BCYF saying: "It wasn't about the money.  It's about reorganization.  We don't need the money."

So we passed a budget in the State House without that amendment.  That following week they said they needed money to keep the community centers open.  So that's a little bit disingenuous.  At the counselors meeting I repeated this conversation without giving out the name of the person at the BCYF.  I stated at that meeting that their behavior was disingenuous. 

Here I'm doing something for one agency of the city [Fire Dept which they are happy to accept at $16 million.  Just imagine - $250,000 in a state budget of about $30 billion is nothing.  It wasn't much and they rejected it. 

The Mason School does not have a gym or an auditorium. 

In the past the Mason School has borrowed the auditorium at Orchard Gardens.  For recreation, they go to the park across the street.  As noted above, both parents stressed the importance of the pool especially given the lack of other recreational facilities.

Strategy:  Ask the School Department for a gym and an auditorium.  Maybe then they will let us have the school.  That's what some of the attendees said. (Note:  that's called desperation.  The residents should not have to bow to neglect.)

Tito Jackson reported:  The Mason Pool, they say, [City of Boston officials] is not "well attended"  - last year only 28,000.  He said the Mason Pool is just that - a pool.  There are no basketball courts to attract people for a variety of activities. 

Residents said that no one knows the pool exists.  The Mason Pool building is relatively small because it is just large enough to hold the pool and it sits next to the Mason School but without a sign that draws your attention.  If you look carefully, you will find a small Boston Center for Youth & Families [BCYF] sign next to the front door and that's it. 

"Why hasn't BCYF advertised the pool?  Why are there no signs?"  No one seemed to know the answers but suggested that BCYF has poorly managed outreach to the community.

Funds for the Mason Pool are in the operating budget of the City of Boston.  Several parents mentioned that other Boston Public Schools [the Hennigan, the Murphy] have pools within their facilities and began asking questions.  
  • Who runs those pools?  BCYF or the schools? 
  • Is the maintenance of those school pools within the school budget or the operating budget?
  • Since the Mason Pool is so heavily used by the Mason School, can its operating budget be included in the BPS budget?

The Mason School and the Mason Pool are being setup for failure. 
  • Don't advertise
  • Don't get anyone involved
  • Isolate the pool from the community
  • Don't let parents know about "other" schools and what they have
  • Disregard the fact that the Mason School has no gym
Wallah!  Close the pool - no fight, no problem.

Consider this: 

The Mason Pool is at the back of "The Prairie" across the street from 1010 Mass Ave - a City of Boston facility.  Inside at the elevators are signs encouraging you to use the stairs for your health.

How about encouraging the workers to go to the Mason Pool at lunchtime, before work or after a long hard day at the job. . . .  After a swim at the Mason, City employees would feel better and enjoy their work more.

Upham's Corner News researched the suggested lack of parity.  What we found was surprising. 

Boston Public Schools website

http://www.cityofboston.gov/bps/
Which schools have pools?

No easy way to answer this question.
ISPORT website

http://swim.isport.com/swimming-pools/
List of swimming pools in the City of Boston

Data is somewhat inconsistent.  For example, some pools are Boston while others are Dorchester.  However, eventually you can get good results that allow you to connect Community Centers and schools. 

Following is a selection of Boston Public Schools that have associated swimming pools.

Boston Public School and Community Center

Pool General Information Pool Details
Holland School
Holland Community Center
85 Olney Street
Dorchester
Facility Type: Municipal
Facility Accessibility: Public


Amenities: Showers, Locker Rooms
Activities Offered: Swim School, Open Swim (Recreational Swimming)
Equipment: Pulling Gear
Admission/Rates: $1.00
Facility Open: Year Round

Mattahunt School
Mattachunt Community Center
100 Hebron Street
Mattapan
Facility Type: Municipal
Facility Accessibility: Public
Amenities: Showers, Locker Rooms
Activities Offered: Lap Swimming, Swim School, Open Swim (Recreational Swimming)
Equipment: Pulling Gear, Lane Lines
Admission/Rates: $2.00
Facility Open: Year Round

Condon School
Condon Community Center
200 "D" Street
South Boston
Facility Type: Municipal
Facility Accessibility: Public
Amenities: Showers, Locker Rooms
Activities Offered: Swim School, Open Swim (Recreational Swimming)
Equipment: Pulling Gear
Admission/Rates: $0.50
Facility Open: Year Round

Hennigan School
Hennigan Community Center
200 Heath Street
Jamaica Plain
Facility Type: Municipal
Facility Accessibility: Public
Amenities: Lifeguard On Duty, Showers, Locker Rooms
Activities Offered: Lap Swimming, Swim School, Open Swim (Recreational Swimming)
Equipment: Pulling Gear, Lane Lines
Admission/Rates: $1.00
Facility Open: Year Round

Murphy School
1 Worrell Street
Dorchester

Type of Facility: Community Center
Facility Accessibility: Public
Amenities: Lifeguard On Duty, Showers, Locker Rooms
Activities Offered: Open Swimming (Recreational Swimming), Lap Swim, Water Aerobics, Swim School
Equipment: Diving Board (1-meter)
Non-Diving Related Equipment: Pulling Gear, Lane Lines

Mason School
150 Norfolk Avenue
Roxbury

Mason Pool
176 Norfolk Ave, Roxbury
Facility Type: Municipal
Facility Accessibility: Private

NOTE!!  This is a public facility, not private
Activities Offered: Swim School, Open Swim (Recreational Swimming)
Equipment: Pulling Gear
Facility Open: Year Round

Tito Jackson: 
  • For the school, the pool will not be closed.  The three days of the week that the pool is open for the school, that will continue. 
  • In addition, no scheduling changes will happen this summer.
  • At this point, the pool will not be open to the public after the summer.
Other things to consider:
  • So we are now working on is more access for the community beyond the summer. 
  • The Mason School is an inclusion model school.  To think of the community not having an opportunity to use the pool doesn't make sense.
  • The Mason Pool was just fixed, so we just poured a lot of money into it and now the City proposes to shut it down.
How can I help?

If you would like to promote the Mason Pool, please contact your city councilor, the four city councilors-at-large  and the Mayor's Hotline 617-635-4500.

Remember this:  If five people call a councilor's office about a particular issue, then it gets on their radar.  If 10 people call, they know the issue is  significant.  What counts in politics and the City of Boston is the voices of the residents.  Let your opinions be heard.

The Mason Pool and the Mason School thank you in advance and the area residents thank you as well.

On June 27, we passed this article and the community's concerns to Jamie Langowski at Councilor John Connolly's office.  What was addressed in her response was only half of the issue.  Yes, access to the pool is being preserved for the school (at least temporarily) but it will soon be removed from the community.  To this there was no response.

Mon, Jun 27, 2011 at 2:34 PM

Nancy,

Thank you for the link to the article. Councilor Connolly was chairing an Education hearing at City Hall that night and he brought the Mason Pool up in the hearing. He has received assurances from the City that the pool will still be available for the Mason School to use. Please feel free to contact me if our office can ever be helpful on this or any other issue.

Best,  Jamie
Mon, Jun 27, 2011 at 2:52 PM

Thanks for getting back to me.  Yes, we understand that the Pool will still be available to the school.  Our bigger goal is to make sure it is still available to the community for their use.

The whole point of the article was to demonstrate that many schools exist in the City of Boston that are part of Community Centers.  We are asking that the same standard apply to the Mason Pool.

Thanks for your assistance.

Nancy


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