BREC report shows most children taking swim lessons in East Baton Rouge Parish lived in 70805, 70802 _lowres

Advocate file photo by LIZ CONDO -- Sisters Danni Fontenot, 9, from left, Jordyn Fontenot, 8, and Reagan Coates, 6, holds hands as they jump to their instructor Jerel Brown, bottom right, during their beginner swimming lessons at BREC's Webb Park Pool.


The largest number of children who took swimming lessons through BREC this summer came from the 70805 and 70802 ZIP codes — the same neighborhoods closest to the Gus Young Swimming Pool that residents begged BREC not to demolish earlier this summer.

BREC released its 2015 final aquatics report on Thursday, which showed that more than 1,400 kids throughout the parish took swimming lessons directly through BREC or through a BREC-YMCA partnership earlier this summer. One third of those participants were from 70805, 70802 or 70806 area codes.

Local political representatives of those areas have argued that it’s especially important for BREC to maintain pools in their neighborhoods to give poor, black children the opportunity to learn how to swim.

Metro Councilwoman Denise Marcelle and 19th Judicial District Court Judge Trudy White went head-to-head with BREC leaders earlier this summer when BREC announced plans to demolish the dilapidated Gus Young pool in the 70802 area.

BREC rebutted their claims by saying their attendance figures showed the Gus Young Pool was their least-used aquatics facility.

BREC already maintains City-Brooks Swimming Pool in 70802, and Howell Park Swimming Pool in 70805. Their partnership with the YMCA also meant that children in the Gus Young neighborhood could take swim lessons at the nearby A.C. Lewis Pool in 70806.

Marcelle and BREC reached a partial compromise over the Gus Young Swimming Pool, where they have planned a public-private partnership to build a new one. Marcelle and the others will need to raise hundreds of thousands of private dollars in order to make their dreams of a new pool a reality.

The Gus Young Pool had fallen into disrepair due to its old age, and had been closed for the past few summers before BREC announced plans to demolish it.

The BREC aquatics report also showed that Liberty Lagoon Water Park broke its record this summer for the highest amount of revenue that the park has earned.

Liberty Lagoon had a total $945,945 in revenue this year, and it incurred $619,000 in expenses. Its revenues fluctuated between $660,000 and $840,000 in its previous four years of operations.


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