PASADENA — High fees and a "country club" atmosphere effectively exclude minorities from the new $6.5-million Rose Bowl Aquatic Center, the head of the Pasadena NAACP charged.
"We are not faced with the blatant racism of old," National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People President John Kennedy told the city directors Tuesday. "The means of exclusion have changed but the end result is the same: exclusivity."
The aquatic center, which opened in June in the Arroyo Seco, is run by the nonprofit Amateur Athletic Foundation and overseen by a 16-member board. The foundation received nearly $1 million in city construction money and a $4-million city loan to build Olympic-sized, diving and wading pools in Brookside Park.
Kennedy and James Cook, a Northwest Pasadena resident whose wife is a former aquatic center board member, said the center should be run by the city. Under the foundation, the center can't meet its operating costs, pay back the city loan and still provide affordable minority programs, they said.
For the Record
Los Angeles Times Friday December 21, 1990 San Diego County Edition Metro Part B Page 2 Column 5 Metro Desk 2 inches; 51 words Type of Material: Correction
Aquatics center--The Amateur Athletic Foundation was incorrectly identified as the operator of the Rose Bowl Aquatics Center in Pasadena in an article Thursday. The center is run by the Amateur Athletic Foundation Rose Bowl Aquatics Center Board of Pasadena. The Pasadena board added the foundation name to its title in recognition of a construction donation.
Aquatic center board member Bill Bogaard disputed the allegations of exclusivity. More than 13,000 youngsters, many of them minorities, used the pools this summer, he said.
The center board is seeking corporations and foundations to fund swimming programs for minorities, Bogaard said. And he said donors have pledged $5 million over the next few years to pay off the city loan.
Bogaard said the center board would meet with Kennedy and Cook, and "I think when the facts are in, the center will be shown to have responded to the concerns raised."
The aquatic center is on city-owned land, leased for $1 a year. It was the site of the Brookside Plunge, a city-owned pool that closed in 1983. The Plunge had provided recreational swimming for many minority residents of Northwest Pasadena.
City and center officials said the center was built mainly for team competitive swimming, with the idea of involving more minorities in a sport in which they are underrepresented.
Kennedy said more shallow pools--only one of the center's three pools is shallow--are needed for recreation by non-swimmers.
Recreational swimming for Pasadena residents costs $1.50 for adults and 50 cents for children. Swimming lessons cost $45 for three weeks, which former center board member Christina Cook said was too high for most poor people in Northwest Pasadena.
Cook, who resigned from the board in 1988 after serving one year, said the board has never understood the idea of minority involvement.
Kennedy also said the land for the Brookside Plunge was given to the city for public use and the privately owned center may violate deed restrictions. The directors told City Atty. Victor Kaleta to research that.