Oil giants step in to save Houston pools

June 20, 2011 2:37:47 PM PDT
It looks like there may be some relief coming for those who live close to the nine community pools that were forced to stay closed because of city budget issues. Those pools will be opened up again.

The money comes from corporate donors in Houston who've stepped up to reopen the facilities just in time for the Fourth of July festivities.

In the heat of summer, perhaps nothing says fun to a kid like a dip in the pool.

But for many children who depend on the city's free swimming pools to stay cool and off the streets, the city's budget woes meant a summer without their usual pool -- until now.

"It is good that we have a city that we can cooperate and collaborate with and work with," Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee said.

On Monday afternoon, Jackson Lee announced that Marathon Oil and Conoco-Phillips have agreed to step up and put $350,000 to reopen pools and community centers shuttered by budget cuts.

"This is living our values. This is neighbors needing help. This is an emergency. Our kids don't need be without a pool or elders without a community center in the hot summer," Marathon Oil Vice President Eileen Campbell said.

The funds mean eight city pools closed this summer will reopen July 1. The seven community centers closed will reopen a few days later.

Mayor Annise Parker says she's committed to keeping the centers open permanently.

"This is money not only to keep the swimming pools but the community centers open through the end of the summer season, which is August. My responsibility now is to keep them open going forward and I've committed to do that," Parker said.

For neighborhood activists who worked hard to save their pools and community centers, they are not taking this funding for granted, knowing a permanent solution will take even more money.

"This will mean just a little bit of a window for us to work really hard to come up with some more solutions," Cherryhurst Civic Club's Carol Rensink said.

Meanwhile, the pools are looking for more lifeguards.

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