Winston-Salem residents unhappy about pool transformation

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Pools are closing in Winston-Salem for good.

City leaders have already drained the Sprague Street public swimming pool and people are not happy about it. A petition is circulating on social media that has more than 500 signatures.

"We had a lot of families that are like lower income and don't have transportation or work long hours come to this pool, walk to this pool, bring their kids on the weekend," said Millicent Himes, a former lifeguard.

People living on the Southside of Winston-Salem worry about access to other pools now that the Sprague Street pool is gone and the YWCA is closing.

"We had so many children come in with life vests and have to take the swim tests and really struggle with the swim test," Himes said. "And by the end of the summer, after 3 weeks they were swimming in the deep end, jumping off the diving boards and even participating in our swim teams."

Himes said the closest swimming pool is about three miles away.

"Some of the girls that walk here across the street... four blocks away...they would walk here. And they can't do that with Reynolds Park. It's too far away," Himes said.

Shanna Welch started the petition.

She said losing this pool means another positive outlet and form of fitness in the community will be gone.

The opportunity for free lessons will also be taken away.

"On the USA Swim website, people that are most affected by drowning are people in low-income communities," Welch said. "So the fact that they're closing the pool and losing the access to free swim lessons is really detrimental to the people that need it the most, statistically speaking."

City leaders understand people's concerns but say as these pools age the costs go up.

All the public pools in the city got assessed before the decision was made to close the Sprague Street pool.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.