Area pools offer cool summertime fun

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 27, 2001


PHOTO: AREA CHILDREN play at the Lion’s Club pool in Reserve. (Staff Photo by J. Edmund Barnes) St. Charles, St. John, and St. James Parishes encompass an area of approximately 983 square miles and are home to some 115,000 people. But there are only five pools available to the general public in the entire area. Between two pools in Regala and Edgard, the Lion’s Club pool in Reserve, and two pools in Gramercy, opportunities for residents of the River Parishes to cool down inexpensively are few and far between. St. Charles Parish currently has no public pools. There are a number of country clubs that have pools, but their use requires a membership. St. James Parish has two pools, one located in Gramercy proper, and one located near Colonial Sugar refinery in Golden Grove. John Meaux has been running the Gramercy pool system for three years. For Meaux, the main reason why there are so few pools in the River Parishes is the expense of maintaining the pools. “It’s expensive as all heck,” said Meaux. “A big part of the budget goes to keeping up the pools.” Meaux wouldn’t comment on the price of admission to the pools, but said that the Golden Grove pool is the busiest in St. James Parish. Meaux explained that because many local residents don’t have access to cars, they simply walk to the pool. Meaux offered another reason why there are so few public pools in the River Parishes: the growth in the number of people who have pools built at their home. “Lots of people have pools in their backyard,” said Meaux. St. Johns Parish has two public pools. The people of Reserve also have access to the old Goudcheux – Henderson Sugar Company pool, now being run by the Reserve Lion’s Club. The Lion’s Club pool was built in 1937 by the Goudcheux/Henderson Sugar Company. The company, which went bankrupt in the 1970’s, had an entire recreational complex for their workers, including the pool, a baseball diamond, and a park for picnics. The only remnant of their egalitarian program is the pool, which was taken over by the Lion’s Club over 20 years ago. Danny Millet has been running the pool for the Lion’s Club for the past two years. Membership isn’t restricted – for $10 one has access to the pool for the summer. Each individual trip to the pool costs 50 cents for a child, and one dollar for an adult. The pool is also available for rental on Sundays. Additional money for the pool is raised through the Lion’s Club and fund-raisers held for the pool specifically. For him, the best part of the running the pool is seeing everyone enjoying it. “(The pool is) very afforadable for everyone. The hardest part is making sure everything goes smooth. All the work that goes into it.” The entire Millet family is involved in the running of the pool. Adam Millet and his younger brother Peter both work at the pool. Millet said his wife also helps out. The St. Johns Parish Recreational Department maintains two pools, one in Regala recreational complex on the East Bank, and one in Edgard on the West Bank. Errol Manuel, the Recreational Department director, said that there was a third public pool in Greenwood that was shutdown because of safety concerns. Manuel, like Meaux, believes that the primary reason behind the limited number of public pools is cost. Manuel stated that the expense behind maintaining the pools in good working order could be high. But other than financial reason, Manuel stated that he could think of no particular reason why there are only five pools (including the Lion’s Club pool) available to the general public in the River Parishes. The lifeguards at the public pools in Regala and Edgard expressed universal enthusiasm for their jobs. Daniel Villa has worked at the Regala pool for three years. He keeps coming back because he likes working with the kids. Villa, who hopes to coach at the college or high school level, helps teach the children swimming techniques. “I try to show them some positive things with all the negativity around here.” For Villa and many other lifeguards, the hardest aspect of their jobs isn’t dealing with people, or the possiblity of having to save someone from drowning – it is the relentless sun. The busiest season for the Regala, Edgard and Reserve pools is July.