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The Columbus Dispatch (Ohio)
The businessman wants no credit, and donates to the city from behind a cloak of anonymity. But, just so you know, he's the one to thank when your children jump off new diving boards into the local pool next summer.
And he is the one to thank for the pool's fresh paint, the new LED lights that will allow for night swims, the new steps. Well, you get the idea.
The man donated $30,000 this year to the city of London's Parks and Recreation Department to give its 78-year-old pool a facelift. And when he saw how much good it did, he pledged an additional $60,000.
Mayor Pat Closser said he knows how lucky London is, that not every small, rural community has businesspeople who write them checks. Given that just three years ago, the London City Council planned to close the pool because the budget had no money to maintain or operate it, Closser is especially grateful.
"The pool is never going to make us money, I know that," Closser said. "But it's a quality-of-life issue. We want more things for the kids to do."
When the pool was slated for closure in 2013, a dedicated group of residents pulled together and raised $30,000 in 30 days to keep it open. It has remained open since, but the nearly 80-year-old electrical system was barely hanging on, the concrete was crumbling and the city's aging water plant almost didn't even have enough capacity to fill it this year.
So fixing the infrastructure was the priority with that first donation, said Tammy Braskett, the city's parks and recreation director. She and the mayor are getting price quotes and putting together a proposal for the donor to see what they might be able to do with this second gift.
"We'd like a little bling now," Braskett said. She would like a fountain installed -- something resembling a mushroom, umbrella or water bucket -- and maybe a slide.
In fact, the city is trying to improve all its parks, including Cowling Park just up the street from the municipal pool. A local business is helping there, too: the associates of Stanley Electric US donated nearly $5,000 to pay for an inflatable screen and related projection equipment. There will be free movies in the park next summer.
The city also has $30,000 for the pool coming from the state's capital budget. All those grants and donations mean that Braskett can use the $43,000 or so she is budgeted for salaries and supplies, the way it should be, and not so much on maintenance.
She said she hopes to run a swim-lesson program, something she hasn't been able to do, and to raise the daily admission count from the usual 100 to 175.
"People expect a pool," Braskett said, "but we want people to drive by and see a pool that makes them say, 'I want to go in there and swim.'"
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