Political Battle Ends; Davey Lopes Pool Reopens - ABC6 - Providence, RI and New Bedford, MA News, Weather

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Political Battle Ends; Davey Lopes Pool Reopens

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Twitter: @markcurtisABC6

mcurtis@abc6.com

Kids are once again splashing around in the Davey Lopes pool in Providence, after it closed two summers ago over money problems.

But community leaders fought to get it reopened, saying swim lessons - especially for minority kids - are critical.

"About 70 percent of African–Americans cannot swim. 90 percent of white folks can swim. And you get in the water, and you're a teenager, and you're silly, down you go and that's it. This will save lives," said Ray Rickman of Swim Empowerment.

The Lopes Recreation Center is not just a pool; it will host hundreds of kids for summer camps and sports.

ABC6 Chief Political Reporter Mark Curtis said, "The fight over reopening this pool was one of the most titan political battles, in recent Providence history."

Mayor Angel Taveras ordered the pool closed, saying it was too expensive to repair and operate.

He wanted to replace it with a water park like this, but most on the City Council objected.

"It's incredible the fact that we had so many Council people kind of coming together; support, federal funds; we had community leaders come in and support," said Ward 11 Providence City Councilor Davian Sanchez.

But more than anything, it was a ground swell effort from ordinary people in the community who fought city hall.

Leah Williams Metts wants her four kids to swim in the very same pool where she learned.

"You know it kept me off the streets; away from drugs; away from sex. It kept me safe, me and my family. And it enabled me to do the right thing. And that's what this pool means to me and the community," said Leah Williams Metts, a community activist.

The Davey Lopes Pool is now open afternoons, through August.

$92 thousand dollars in federal funds and private donations were used to get it back open.

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