Published on: Tuesday, November 1, 2016 Takoma Park Newsletter

City would welcome aquatics center

In a joint letter to Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett dated Oct. 25, Takoma Park Mayor Kate Stewart (on behalf of the City Council) and Erik Wangsness, president, Adventist Healthcare/Washington Adventist Hospital, conveyed their support for the construction of a Montgomery County Department of Recreation aquatics center on the Takoma Park campus of Washington Adventist Hospital. Their letter noted that “an aquatics center would be an asset to both the hospital and the community.”

It went on to make the case for locating the aquatics center in Takoma Park by highlighting several key fiscal and social issues. Here are some of the main points that were outlined:

  • Small, standalone swimming pools are expensive to operate and do not meet the needs of a large, diverse population. In contrast, aquatics facilities have pools for several uses, including meeting therapeutic needs, recreational needs, exercise needs and providing space for competitive swimming.
  • As Washington Adventist Hospital prepares to move its main hospital to White Oak, the City of Takoma Park and hospital leaders are looking at the current site for uses that complement the health services that will remain and, also importantly, improve the overall health and wellbeing of the community.
  • An aquatics center in Takoma Park, on the edge of East Silver Spring, would provide an enormous community service. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), African-American children between the ages 5 and 14 are three times more likely to drown than white children. One of the factors the CDC points to for this disparity is the lack of access to swimming pools. For the young people who live in the Takoma Park/East Silver Spring community, especially young children of color and low-income residents, having a place close to where they live to learn water safety helps our community address these disparities and provides important life skills to our young people.

The letter concluded by stating that “The City and the Hospital wish to work with the Department of Recreation on evaluating the space needs for the aquatics facility, as well as determining the likely costs of development.” It also indicated that the two organizations want to request a General Assembly bond bill for the project and asked for the support of Leggett and the County Council. Both Dr. Weymouth Spence, president of Washington Adventist University, and Dr. Brad Stewart, vice-president and provost of Montgomery College, support this effort. To read the entire letter, visit news-alert/letter-from-city-council-and-wah-presidentregarding-aquatics-center.

This article appeared in the November 2016 edition of the Takoma Park Newsletter. The Takoma Park Newsletter is available for download here.