Effort to re-open Davey Lopes Pool in Providence

by ABC6 Chief Political Reporter Mark Curtis


Teens were playing basketball at the Davey Lopes Recreation Complex in Providence, but something was different.

The pool is now closed for good, and they are not happy:

“It is very important on hot days like this one. We like to come and swim and play with our friends,” said one teen.

“It was good because every day in the summer was hot,” said another teen.

The city said too few kids were using the pool, and it was too expensive to fix.

But parents say it was strict rules that chased the kids away.

Parent Steven Santos said, “Certain kids just couldn't go swimming, because of the new rules.”      

Mark Curtis asked, “They had to have parents with them?”

 To which Santos responded, “Well they have to have parents with them, but you do have parents who work.”

But with a tight budget, the city closed the pool and looked for alternatives.

Mayor Angel Taveras (D-Providence) said, “In terms of the Davey Lopes pool, that is closed for the summer. And we're going to continue to try to work with the families, to make sure they have access to the Boys and Girls Clubs for free.”

And while the Boys and Girls Club has a pool, parents tell us it's too far from the Lopes pool for kids to walk.

Short of that, the sprinklers in Sayles Park are one of the few places to keep cool.

Community leaders say all of this is creating a dangerous problem.

Ray Rickman of Swim Empowerment Rhode Island, “Seventy percent of African–American's cannot swim. Whether they have a Ph.D., and they are a professor at Brown, or whether they live in one of these south side communities.”

Rickman says because of that African Americans account for half of all drowning victims in the nation.

He and members of Swim Empowerment Rhode Island plan to meet with Mayor Taveras on Wednesday.