Budget cuts could close pool for disabled in Phoenix

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by Dennis Welch

Bio | Email | Follow: @Dennis_Welch

azfamily.com

Posted on March 22, 2014 at 4:10 PM

Updated Saturday, Mar 22 at 4:20 PM

PHOENIX -- The city of Phoenix’s $38 million budget deficit could mean cuts to parks and services, including the closure of several community centers, according to a recent budget proposal from the city manager’s office.

The trial budget has outlined several centers that would close, including the city's only public barrier-free pool.

The pool at Telephone Pioneers of America Park in North Phoenix was designed to meet the needs of people with physical disabilities.

It is the nation's first barrier-free pool, according to Jennifer Longdon, an advocate for the disabled.

"I was certain that you had to have the information wrong because certainly, we wouldn’t be closing the only barrier-free pool in the city as one of three," she said.

The pool was built by volunteers and funded entirely through donations, according to the city of Phoenix website.

"In my opinion, Pioneer Pool should be the very last pool that we consider closing because of the disproportional impact it’s going to have on a broad segment of our community," Longdon said.

City Manager Ed Zuecher has proposed closing the pool as part of sweeping cuts that would address Phoenix’s budget shortfall.

"You either have to cut services, cut expenses or increase revenue to make those meet," he said.

The plan would also cut 350 jobs and funding for parks and recreation centers. There would also be less money for graffiti removal.

Zuecher said these cuts are a price that must be paid.

"Almost every other aspect of the city takes some reductions ... from the manager’s office and the mayor and the council all the way through our recreation program," he said.

The trial proposal will be presented to the Phoenix City Council on Tuesday, March 25, and will go through community budget meetings in April.

The council is scheduled to receive a revised proposal on May 5.

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