Still in the swim

Local man donates $90,000 to keep Druid Hill pool open until Labor Day

August 10, 2010

The summer has been brutally hot, with at least 44 days of 90-plus temperatures. This week, the financially strapped city of Baltimore had to close nearly all of its swimming pools early. Into this sweltering situation stepped a citizen savior, J. P. Grant.

His firm, Grant Capital Management, donated $90,000 to keep the popular pool in Druid Hill Park open until Labor Day. Mr. Grant's lease financing firm, based in Columbia, has done business with the city as well as with other municipalities around the nation. He has said his motive for the donation is simply to allow kids the joy of swimming at the pool, something he experienced as a youth. We salute him for that.

As Mr. Grant, 57, who grew up near Druid Hill Park, knows, the park's pool is a gem. It is also busy. On a recent blistering weekend, so many swimmers flocked to the pool that there was an hourlong wait for admission.

In the difficult business of putting together a budget, Baltimore's leaders had to prioritize, funding what was essential to keep the city running and trimming elsewhere. The city's 41 swimming pools, which were kept open on a rotating basis as a cost-saving method last August, were trimmed back more this year. Swimming pools are not as important as firehouses or police stations, but they do provide a good source of recreation for youth. And there is no doubt that they help keep some kids out of trouble. In short, they matter.

The early closing of the pools probably caught many people by surprise. A debate about the city budget can be pretty abstract. Having a group of kids turned away at a swimming pool on a hot summer afternoon is not.

Relying on private donations to keep municipal pools open is a stopgap measure. But at the end of this long, long, hot summer, such cool stopgaps are most welcome. We encourage other citizen saviors to follow Mr. Grant's example and take the plunge.

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