After more than four decades, the City of South Miami now has its own public pool.
A long-time resident named Simon Codrington Jr. had been trying to get a pool built in his city since the 1970s.
Now, after several emotional speeches about the challenges of getting the pool built and the drownings that occurred in the interim, community members in South Miami quickly made themselves comfortable in the water.
The pool was first conceived in 1968 by Leroy Gibson, the city’s first black commissioner. He was concerned about kids having a place to play around and learn basic swim skills, specifically, a safer place than the surrounding canals.
The pool will hold swim lessons for the community, which boasts a large black population. School-age black kids statistically drown at five times the rate of white and Hispanic kids. Local community members have tried to find ways to teach these kids by bussing them to pools at private schools like Ransom Everglades and public pools outside of the city.
Political in-fighting and concerns about funding continued to push the project off for 46 years. Philip Stoddard, South Miami’s current mayor and the 11th since Commissioner Gibson was voted into office, sported swim trunks to the pool opening.
“Here 46 years later, longer than the children of Israel wandered the parched deserts of Egypt, today in the City of South Miami, everybody has a swimming pool,” he said at the ribbon cutting ceremony.
The pool will only be open until mid-September, though, due to operating costs. However, city officials hope that next summer they will be able to keep it open longer.