Since Saturday, May 31, the City of Alice has extended its open hours to the public for the Southside Swimming Pool for the summer months.
While the change will increase the available time for area residents looking to cool down, it will also affect or eliminate some traditional swimming programs this year.
Community Development Director Yolanda Bueno said since the closing of the Anderson Park pool several years ago, the public hours have been from noon to 4 p.m. daily.
"It's been difficult for parents that work until 5 p.m.," Bueno said. "So we're just trying to accomodate the public with more public hours." In the new schedule, which will continue through mid-August, the pool will be open to the public Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. and from noon to 7 p.m. On Fridays, the schedule will be from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. and from noon to 6 p.m., with 7 to 9 p.m. reserved for special events.
On the weekends, the pool will be open from noon to 8 p.m. on Saturdays, and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays. In order to offer extended hours to the public, the City of Alice canceled swim lessons and water aerobics this year.
"We have also cut back on pool parties," Bueno said. "Those will be on Sundays only from 5 to 8 p.m., and every single Sunday is already booked."
Also affected are the practice hours for the Alice Swim Team, which has traditionally utilized the pool Monday through Thursday from 5 to 8 p.m.
Bueno said the City initially proposed holding the organization's practices from 8 to 11 a.m., but concerns were raised regarding parents' work schedules. The practice time was then changed to between 7 and 10 p.m.
Bueno said next year, the natorium would be opened and the Alice Swim Team will be moved to the new facility.
During Thursday's city council meeting, Alice Swim Team parents voiced their feelings about the changes to the organization's practice schedule. Erin White, a swim parent, began swimming with the team as a youth in the '80s. Being a part of the swim team has become a family tradition, she said.
"We are a tradition, we are a family," she told the Alice City Council Thursday. "Eliminating after-work practice hours will eliminate half of the swim team. Doing this will do away with 30 years of my life. Swim team is like Christmas for us and that's not an exaggeration. If you take away our evening practices you take away some families' abilities to participate."
Rebecca Rubio, Alice Swim Team board member, said changing practice hours would be more than inconvenience.
"I can't take 15 hours out of my work week to take my kids to practice," she said. "It's a shame. We back each other up. You don't want to take away from these kids."
Leslie Davis also asked the City reconsider its time change. She said the swim team is a family event for grandparents and great-grandparents as well. The swim team is exploring the option of renting the pool at the Alice Country Club for practice. The team did pay the city to utilize the pool for practice as well. The Southside Swimming Pool is located at 3001 Old Kingsville Rd.