Call ‘duped’ by vocal Swim Club opponents

To the editor:

I live in Crestwood Ward 2 and am represented by Alderman Gary Vincent.

I am also a member of the Crestwood Swim Club that has been the object of a series of articles in the Call, the latest of which was Mike Anthony’s editorial in the Sept. 11 issue.

I have followed the Swim Club reporting with great interest and either my husband or I have attended many of the meetings at which this topic has been discussed over the last 18 months.

Mr. Anthony and the Call have erroneously led readers to believe that the majority of the neighborhood is against the pool. Based on the meetings I’ve attended, when pool supporters have outnumbered opponents, that claim is anything but true.

Furthermore, I have always found Mr. Vincent willing to talk with anyone about this issue whether in agreement or not. His Ward 2 colleague, Tim Trueblood, on the other hand, would not even return repeated phone calls to discuss this topic with my husband. I ask you, which is better representation?

There are a few very vocal opponents to the pool and they are the voice that Mr. Anthony and the Call have unfortunately been duped into believing is a majority.

Had Mr. Anthony bothered to investigate further, he would have found that many neighbors surrounding the pool are indeed members of the Swim Club and are happy to have the pool in the neighborhood.

In a city with an aging population and rapidly declining retail base, Crestwood needs to do a much better job in attracting, and keeping, younger families. A neighborhood facility such as the Swim Club is precisely the type of amenity to attract that demographic. Look at any residential development throughout area and you’ll find that most are centered around a pool.

Given the choice of having my children grow up at a pool where they are getting exercise, developing lifetime friendships and using their imaginations or having them walk the mall only to be bombarded with endless innuendo, not-so-subliminal messaging and countless styles of alternative dress, I definitely choose the former and I thank Mr. Vincent for protecting that option for all of Crestwood.

Could it be that he is one of our more forward-thinking officials?

The Crestwood Swim Club put the interests of city first by allowing Kohl’s to take over the site of the original pool. The Swim Club then followed every step in securing permits and working with neighbors to accommodate their concerns as a new pool was designed and constructed.

Since its opening on July 4, Mr. Vincent has been diligent in ensuring that the pool followed those permits to the letter and has worked with city administrators to resolve open issues to the satisfaction of the city and neighbors.

That, Mr. Anthony, is not poor representation, it is democracy in action.

There will always be some who resent the pool’s presence and that’s unfortunate.

What’s more unfortunate, though, is the inability — perhaps refusal — of Mr. Anthony and the Call to accurately report the complete story and resort to personal attacks of an elected official who has gone out of his way to accommodate the interests and concerns of all his constituents.

Eileen Pickel


Editor’s note: Mrs. Pickel’s husband, Christopher, is a Crestwood Swim Club member and serves on Crestwood’s Plan-ning, Zoning and Architectural Review Commission. As a commission member in July 2001, Mr. Pickel seconded and voted in favor of a motion recommending the Board of Aldermen approve a conditional-use permit allowing the Crestwood Swim Club to construct a pool and operate a swim club at its new location. Further-more, as reported in the Sept. 4 issue of the Call, the Swim Club began operating the pool without an occupancy permit — for the building and pool construction — from either St. Louis County or the city of Crestwood, according to an Aug. 25 in-ternal memorandum from then-Public Works Director Mark Payken to City Administrator Don Greer.