Agreeing that Cape needs aquatics center

January 17, 2014

As a member of the Cape Henlopen School District Board of Education from 2005-10 and president of the board 2006-08, I was one of the big supporters of an aquatics center at the new Cape Henlopen High School. Our board at the time thought the idea of a swimming pool at the new high school made sense for lots of reasons, so we put it on the ballot for our local taxpayers to support at the same time they would vote on the new high school. While the vote for the new high school passed, sadly that did not happen for the aquatics center, as it was defeated by a few hundred votes.

I read with interest the recent editorial in support of the aquatics center now eight years later, and I, for one, would again be happy to strongly support that idea for most of the same reasons I pushed for it eight years ago. I would like to remind our Cape family why the board pushed for an aquatics center in 2006.

The first reason is that all of our kids should know how to swim, if for no other reason than we are an ocean and bay community. If we had our own aquatics center, every elementary student in the district would be taught how to swim by the fifth grade, each district elementary school having its own swim time during the year.

This is particularly a need in our minority community, as the research is clear that minority students drown at a much higher rate than do other kids. Several years ago this actually happened to one of our students at Milton. So for me it is also a safety issue.

Another reason for the aquatics center is we have a wonderful swim team that needs it own pool for practice and swim meets. We have done a fine job in the district in giving our athletic teams first-class facilities and this new pool would follow in that tradition.

Thirdly, our Cape Henlopen Aquatics Center could be a Mid-Atlantic facility drawing in swimmers from all over our region, enabling our Cape Henlopen High School to host regional swim meets.

Our new aquatics centers could become a destination for swimmers and swim competition throughout the region.

Lastly, many of our Cape community members continue to ask me, as a previous school board member, why we don’t have a swimming pool in our community surrounded by water. Many of our retired community members have come from their previous communities that had swimming facilities that all community members could use. So our pool could become a community pool for all of our citizens to use like our local library and hospital.

These are just some of the reasons our 2006 Cape Henlopen school board put the question to our taxpayers for the first time. Now, times are different and we are eight years down the road, and I agree with the Cape Gazette editor that we should again put the pool to a vote.

Dr. Gary D. Wray
Cape Henlopen School Board

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