After an initial delay from tile work and then another one because of water issues, the swimming pool at Velma Young Park is now open, and locals of all ages have been beyond ready to soak up the sun. “You can see a lot of friends and kids around you that you know,” said Peryn Bland who spent the whole afternoon swimming with his friends.
Mayor Percy Bland spent the afternoon at the opening day as well, citing how historic this park and pool are. “You know, people have been swimming over here for years. We did some lessons over here a few years back so that more people could actually learn how to swim. They really use the pool over here. We only normally open it for four or five or six weeks for capacity reasons, but bottom line of it is, it’s very vital for the people that live on this side of town,” said Mayor Bland.
Not only is the pool a way to give people in this area a place to swim, it’s also to help the youth, according to Ward 2’s Councilman, Tyrone Johnson. “It’s very important to give our kids something to do throughout the summer. We still have reading programs, and there’s a lot of programs that are going on. What we’re trying to do, is we’re trying to get them in this area where they are protected,” said Johnson. “So, it’s really important for the safety of our kids and making sure they’re out of trouble. And while they’re in the process of it, if they’re of the age, sixteen or older, we also try to help them find a job through the summer.”
Adults who have grown up in Ward 2 also use the park to bring a positive influence through mentoring. “Well, we mentor little boys from the hood and little girls. We’re trying to turn our hood back into neighborhood. It’s kind of unofficial, kind of grass roots. We do things not known by the media, you know, but we’re always doing things. We’re taking them to the park, taking them out of town to the zoo, you know, whatever we can,” said Tavio Rand, who has been mentoring youth in Ward 2 for many years. The pool is open from 1 p.m. until 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday.