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15 years after closing its public pools, Middletown partners with YMCA for new aquatics center

Last Updated 2 weeks by Amnon J. Jobi | Amnon Front Page

Middletown council members approved a $400,000 plan to transform Oakland Park Tuesday as the city looks to invest in youth programs and attempts to beautify the city. While their plans do not include building a public swimming pool at its park, the city thinks it has a solution.

Starting in May 2025, the city will partner with the Great Miami Valley YMCA as it builds a new aquatics center that will be open to the public. Admission will be $5 for kids and $10 for adults for a daily swimming pass. It will be located at the YMCA’s campus at 5750 Innovation Drive on the east side of town.

“I look at location as that’s going to be an issue, no matter where it’s built,” council member Steven West said. “It’s not 1950, it’s 2024, OK, that is Middletown and until people embrace the east end that’s a lot where our opportunity is.”

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At the council meeting in February, some criticized not only the location but the city’s partnership with the YMCA.

“If you take away faith-based organizations out of this city, guess what? You’re going to lose a lot of programs,” West said. “I look at it as you know faith-based organization or not when you are wanting something for the city and you have a partner that does it well in other areas I would trust them over anybody else.”

In 2008, the city closed the Douglass Park pool due to financial reasons and dwindling attendance. In 2009, the city also closed Sunset Park’s pool for the same reasons.

“A lot of people say we were in the pool business before it didn’t work out,” West said. “The city was in the pool business before and it didn’t work out, but guess who it did work out for ‘The Y.'”

Under the new plan, city council approved $3 million from the American Rescue Plan to pay for the new pool at the YMCA. In return, for the next 20 years, the YMCA would be in charge of operating and maintaining the facility.

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“So The Y is actually going to be probably at a loss, and they’re not saying, ‘Oh we got to put a garden there.’ They’re saying, ‘No for 20 years we’re good,'” council member Paul Horn said.

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However, some in the community, like Kip Hightower wanted the city to build a pool at Douglass Park.

“Our pool used to be all the way back here with an Olympic diving board,” said Hightower, showing what used to be the pool area. “This is where people came out and get dressed at. This is the little concession stand they had, you pull this up.”

Hightower longs for those days of having a public pool option closer to the center of the city.

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“I have a 7-year-old daughter that I take swimming,” Hightower said. “I have to take her out of town in order to have a good time.”

Currently, Douglass Park has a splash pad located feet away from where the pool used to be.

“How many kids can you put under a drop of water?” Hightower asked.

He feels it’s an issue of equity and having public options closer to where people live.

“You create a good environment, you have good things going up, you know what I mean, you create a bad environment you have bad things,” said Hightower.

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