Depending on whose memory you want to rely upon, a city swimming pool located in the Marshall Williamson neighborhood is now a reality after a 40, 44 or 50 year wait. The sight of children swimming together in the Murray Park Aquatic Center delighted many of those who attended the city’s opening ceremony last week.
“I am glad that we finally have the pool. When I saw those kids in that water, it made all the years and all the tears worth it,” said long-time resident and community leader Daisy Harrell.
The event included speeches from elected officials, present and past, and members of the community. After the official ribbon-cutting, children and adults waded in. It didn’t take long for the children to start splashing, laughing and enjoying themselves.
Murray Park, located at 5800 SW 66th Street, includes the Gibson-Bethel Community Center and now a pool, splash pad for younger children, and a small building with showers, bathrooms and a food concession.
Funding for the design and construc- tion of the aquatic center came principally from grants. The challenge for South Miamians and city officials will be to secure funds to keep the pool open longer than 10 weeks a year. However, at a recent commission meeting Mayor Philip Stoddard reported that the majority of public pools in the county are open 10 weeks per year.
The aquatic center has been a long labor for many in the community and those elected officials who always kept the dream alive.
“[I am] Glad that this commission was finally able to follow the lead of Commissioners Randy Wiscombe, Velma Palmer, Jay Beckman and myself. I also want to congratulate our CAA for acquiring funding six years ago,” said former Mayor Horace Feliu.
City staff worked diligently to keep the project on point, too.
“I’m proud of everyone who worked so well together for a common goal because the end product is something the City can be proud of! The learn to swim program that we will now be able to host at the pool will save lives and the reality of having a safe, fun alternative to mischief may save lives of many young people. The building of this pool is truly a product of a very determined community and having the right political leaders in place at the critical time,” said Steven Alexander, South Miami City Manager.
In his speech regarding the pool Mayor Stoddard said, “Support for this pool has felt right all along. I couldn’t be prouder and I couldn’t be happier. Congratulations to all of us.”
“I walked into the water and it felt so good. We have something that I hope the children in the community will get to use. It can bring all the kids together,” said Daisy Harrell.
The Murray Park Aquatic Center hours of operation for this fiscal year are: Saturday, August 16 through September 13, 10:30 AM to 4:30 AM. It will be closed Thursdays and Fridays. Clinic and programs take place between 4:30 PM and 6:00 PM.. For information, consult the city website www.southmiamifl.gov or call, 305-663-6338.