By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
MELVINDALE – With the sun shining and children eager to enter the pool, Mayor Stacy Striz kept the pool reopening ribbon-cutting ceremony short, thanking volunteers who helped make the day a reality.
Striz recognized Save the Pool volunteers John Barnett and Dennis Walker, along with Dr. Abdul Ahmed and many others whose efforts helped rehabilitate and reopen the pool.
She also thanked major donors Marathon Petroleum and Shady Awad of Realty Transitions LLC.
Striz said Awad’s company donated labor and did a cleanup to help ensure the pool reopened.
“They really went above and beyond to make sure everything was good for today, so we thank them for that,” Striz said.
She also thanked Evans Distribution of Melvindale and the Police Department for collecting monetary donations at key intersections.
Barnett said that after eight months of effort it “felt great” to see the pool reopen. He said they did it for the children.
“The whole city is my grandkids,” Barnett said. “That’s what it was for. This makes me happy.”
He said he and Walker will roll up their sleeves next year if more fundraising is needed.
Walker said he was glad to see the pool reopen. He said the need to replace so many items to become compliant with the Americans with Disabilities act before the pool could reopen was the biggest challenge the volunteers faced.
He said he hopes the children of Melvindale enjoy the pool.
“That’s what it’s there for,” Walker said, “to enjoy.”
Melvindale resident Vicky Abbott echoed Walker’s sentiment.
“I am really excited for the kids to come here and have a good time today,” she said. “I think it is important for the kids because they get to see all their school friends here, some they haven’t seen all summer, so they are excited about that.”
Brothers Edrees, 14, and Mohamed Ahmed, 13, were glad that Melvindale had its own pool again, and were eager to test out the diving boards.
Madison Abbott, 14, said she was eager to get in the pool for relief from the heat. She said she went to the pool daily during the summers before budget cuts forced it to close.
Lifeguard Kayla Keagy, 15, hope children come to the pool to have fun.
“It’s only $3 to get in,” she said, “and it’s open from 11:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. every day.”
Pauline Riddle said she has been coming to the Melvindale pool since 1966 when she was 4 years old. She said she brought a child, her adult sister and her inner child to the pool reopening.
She said while she is glad the children have a place to get together, she is menopausal and glad to have a place to cool off.
“I am just so happy to see the community coming together and the pool reopened,” she said. “It’s just a wonderful thing for everybody.”
Penny Riddle said the pool was a good place to bring children to cool them off, and to get some respite when they start to “irritate adults with their boredom.”
Pauline Riddle said it was a good way to get children to set aside their electronic devices.
“If they don’t put their device down, it’s going to die in the water,” she said. “So it’s a way to get them to put their phone down.”
Layla Crosby, 16, of Woodhaven, who went to the pool with her grandmothers, said the reopened pool is good for the city’s children.
“It’s somewhere for the kids to go that keeps them out of trouble,” she said. “It’s a way to have fun during the day.”
Supervisor and head lifeguard Kristen Cavazos urges adults to try the adult swim on Wednesday from 6 to 7:30 p.m.
Private pool rentals are available select evenings from 6:15 to 8:15 p.m., at $200 for two hours.
Fieldhouse manager Jake Wolen hopes to offer swimming lessons at 11 a.m. Wednesdays before open swim, with a $50 fee for five weeks of lessons.
Wolen said the pool is a good, safe environment.
“It’s a great pool,” he said. “We have two diving boards, and the kids have a lot of fun here, so we are glad that it is back open.”
He said they are trying let people know that the pool now has improved accessibility for people with special needs, especially wheelchair users.
“It’s a big thing for us,” Wolen said. “I think it may have deterred them in the past, where we weren’t able to cater to people with special needs, and now that we have that going, you can do everything here.”