Wallace pool in ‘horrible’ condition
By Mike Hutton 648-3139 or firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter:@MikeHutton
Cleo Walker, a former assistant swim coach at Lew Wallace High School with her husband, Charles Walker, said the Hornets’ swim pool is a health hazard.
The pool is locked up, barred from public view.
Walker, who lives in Washington now, was back in Gary voting at Lew Wallace when she was overwhelmed by the odor.
“I told them I didn’t know how they could sit there with the pool,” she said. “It was hard to stand there and smell the mold.”
Walker said the pool has a “moldy, leaky ceiling and leaky walls. It’s wretched. It’s just an abandoned pool within the school. I’m not even sure if they drained it. ”
Repeated requests — via telephone and email — to the school superintendents’ office to photograph the pools at both West Side and Lew Wallace went unanswered. The Gary Health Department never returned a phone call detailing the protocol for checking the pools for safety concerns.
Officials at Roosevelt College and Career Academy — run by the state’s takeover contractor EdisonLearning Inc. — wanted to have swimming this year but the pool isn’t functional. Roosevelt Principal Terrence Little said the Gary Community School Corp. is responsible for fixing it. He estimated the cost to be around $40,000. He said there are drainage and filtration issues.
“We have put a request in with them to repair it but there are so many other issues to deal with,” Little said.
Charles Walker, the swim coach for Lew Wallace in 2010-2011 — the last time it had a full season — said the pool was in great shape for his one season as coach.
Walker said he walked into the pool one day in the summer of 2011 and found it trashed.
“It was horrible,” he said.
He said there is mold in the pool area and that “lots of repairs need to be done with the pool only.” Walker said he doesn’t know how the pool fell into disrepair so quickly.
Walker said the program folded in the fall of 2011 — a week before the season started. His team was conditioning and working out on dry land when word filtered down that the Hornets weren’t going to have a program.
“They just shut it down,” Cleo Walker said. “The kids had paid their money and everything.”
Even when the Walkers were coaching the team, it was never easy to keep the program above water. Both Walkers were volunteer assistants for Pat Montgomery before taking over for a season.
Cleo Walker said a printer and a microphone she bought are still in the pool area at Lew Wallace.
“It was a madhouse there,” she said. “They didn’t value swimming or the facility. We didn’t get support from the school district at all.”
Howard Anderson Jr., an assistant with his father for a season at West Side, believes the pools dried up because of neglect.
“It was a situation where they could learn how to swim and lead a healthy life,” he said. “Some of the kids didn’t know how to swim. We taught them how to swim so they wouldn’t drown. Now it’s gone. It’s a sickening thing.”