Grant and Volunteer Initiative to Bring Improvements to Riverside Park Pool This Year

| May 10, 2019 | 0 Comments

Improvements are coming to Riverside Park Pool this summer thanks to a $49,500 grant from the South Baltimore Gateway Partnership (SBGP) and a volunteer effort from Riverside Neighborhood Association and residents in the South Baltimore community. The initiative is being called “Splash City Riverside Pool” and will be a multi-year project following this first round of improvements.

The Splash City project is headed up by the planning team of Nicole Buchholz, Rebecca Celotto, Rebecca Charlton, and Jackson Fisher.

Improvements this year will include power washing the pool deck to remove the chipping green paint, and new murals on the pool deck and bottom of the baby pool. Murals will include colorful circles in the deep end for kids to jump from, kids games painted on the concrete surface in a kids’ area, and splash graphics on the surface of the concrete near the shallow end.

The majority of the budget will be spent on new furniture for the pool. New equipment will include 40 new chaise lounges, eight adirondack chairs, 50 outdoor chairs, 10 side tables, four round picnic tables, four trash cans, 15 umbrellas, 15 umbrella stands, kids games, lap lane equipment, and furniture for the staff. New banners will be added to advertise the programming and hours of the pool, which the team felt has been lacking.

Contractors will help with the power washing and bench improvements, and a muralist from MICA Community Arts Program will assist on the project, but much of the work will be done by volunteers. The first volunteer day is tomorrow, Saturday May 11th from from 9am to 1pm. An additional volunteer day will be scheduled in mid-June to assemble furniture. The pool will open on June 22nd.

Buchholz is an urban planner who was living in Philadelphia until last summer. She worked on projects to rejuvenate two different pools in Philadelphia that helped boost pool attendance and bring neighborhoods together.

“Public pools are kind of a microcosm of the lack of investment in cities,” said Buchholz. “They are pretty gray and have a look like they don’t trust you.”

Speaking about the two pool projects she worked on in Philadelphia, Buchholz said, “the pool attendance skyrocketed and it became a really cool neighborhood hub. It was a really nice space to bring the neighborhood and people of different backgrounds together.”

The projects in Philadelphia were completed using a combination of grants, community fundraising, and volunteering. The pool projects in Philadelphia inspired similar efforts in New York City.

Buchholz is now a Locust Point resident and was recruited by her college roommate, Charlton, to spearhead a similar project for Riverside Park Pool.

The planning team submitted a grant application to SBGP for the Winter 2019 community grant cycle and it was chosen. SBGP manages South Baltimore’s Casino Impact Grants. Planning quickly got underway to get the ball rolling in time for the 2019 swim season. The planning team has held meetings with Baltimore Recreation and Parks and the Riverside Park Pool Manger Anthony Smooth. The team wanted to make sure the pool staff has the resources they need. They also took input from a pool survey that was conducted in recent years.

Designers working on the project are Buchholz, Stefanie McKenzie, and Scott Huot. The volunteer coordination contact on the project is Alissa Ganser of Business Volunteers Maryland.

Events coming up this summer at Riverside Park Pool include Twilight Swim on July 26th and Movie Night on August 24th.

The planning team at Splash City is hoping this year will be the first round of improvements at Riverside Park Pool. They would like to add more programming at the pool including swim classes, aqua zumba, and yoga. They are also interested in adding murals to the outside of the pool building that faces the park including a mural honoring the integration of the pool in 1962.

The planning team wanted to emphasize that the pool is not just for the Riverside neighborhood and that it serves all of South Baltimore. They urged all in the area to help in the volunteering effort and to come out to swim this summer. They are excited for this summer season and thankful they were given this opportunity to improve Riverside Park Pool.

People can donate to the Splash City project through the Riverside Neighborhood Association’s website.

The planning team is hoping that Splash City is a movement that will spread to other pools in Baltimore City.

New exercise areas were opened at Riverside Park this week and athletic facility improvements are expected to begin later this year.

Rendering courtesy of the Splash City design team

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