I wrote the previous post, and then I talked to Kirsten Britt, President of the Sayre-Morris Advisory Council, and I realized I needed to write something else.
What’s needed to reopen Sayre-Morris Pool are not repairs to the pool itself. What’s needed is a new roof that will be safe for those beneath it. Whether they are learning to swim, training to be a lifeguard, doing aqua-aerobics, or participating in any number of non-water-based activities the Sayre-Morris rec center offers: After-school sports. Homework support. Black History Month performances. Dance programs. Senior programs. Meal distribution.
When it rains, it rains in the rec center’s second-floor girls’ bathroom. The roof issues may be worst over the pool, but it’s only a matter of time before they close down the rest of the building too.
The struggle to save Sayre-Morris is not just about the pool. It’s about every form of recreation, safe haven, and community that building holds – for West Philly, and for the city as a whole. I live in South Philly, and when I trained to be a lifeguard in 2013, Sayre-Morris was the closest place for me to do so. If we lose Sayre-Morris – one of only three remaining indoor public pools – we will lose many more of our glimmering, life-sustaining Philadelphia public pools in the decades to come, because there will not be lifeguards to staff them.
Kirsten and the Sayre-Morris Advisory Council are meeting regularly now, strategizing and organizing about how to cut through endless bureaucratic red tape to get a new roof on the building and reopen the pool and playground. They welcome support and participation from all over.