The Budlong Pool is as much a part of the folklore of Cranston as the St. Mary's Feast. Many generations of children have learned to swim there, and for Cranstonians that can't get to a beach …
The Budlong Pool is as much a part of the folklore of Cranston as the St. Mary's Feast. Many generations of children have learned to swim there, and for Cranstonians that can't get to a beach or have a pool of their own, it's been a lifesaver on those scorching hot days.
While my husband was Mayor, the team always got the pool up to snuff, and his cannonballs into the deep end alongside many young kids were a staple of opening day. During the height of the COVID pandemic in 2020, Budlong did not open because of state imposed coronavirus guidelines, not because of an infrastructure issue. When a new Mayor and administration took over in 2021, it never reopened.
At the State House, I'm known as a rather independent voice. I'm more than happy to be a partner in noble pursuits, no matter your party label. That's why I'm so frustrated by the top down approach towards the future of the Budlong complex.
We've missed an opportunity to partner with organizations like the YMCA, and create public-private partnerships where our children could have used their pool in the interim to learn how to swim and enjoy a summer dip. That would have been an easy win-win scenario for our kids and our city. Instead, what we had was a whole lot of nothing outside of very disappointed families.
Yes, there are issues re: ADA accessibility, and the pool house needs updates - all which should be addressed with our once in a generation ARPA funds. Let's fully lean into those items; but there's a much larger problem going on here - no one is listening to the neighborhood.
There has - to date - been no community meetings, no formal opportunity for the neighbors to give their input as to what their vision is for the complex. At a recent City Council meeting, where members of both the administration and council reiterated how they didn’t trust each other, the Director of Administration announced that there would finally be a meeting where neighbors could listen to the current administration plans - a much smaller pool and a hope and a prayer for a splash pad down the road. The council requested that they be jointly involved - a simple and logical ask that Director Moretti was unnecessarily elusive towards.
The Director reiterated that while the meeting was going to happen, the design specs to go out to bid were going forward in the background unimpeded. Imagine that. No plans to make corrections to the course based on feedback from local families. That's not actually listening to the neighbors - that's letting them speak into a microphone and checking the box.
The time for community input really was two years ago, so that the neighborhood could've had some ownership and pride in the creation of a "new Budlong." Great cities are built from great neighborhood engagement. It's long past time we give them their due.
From the outcries during public comment at recent council meetings, it's quite clear we're barreling down the road and spending millions of taxpayer dollars towards something that many in the neighborhood aren't keen on. Perhaps because they've been talked to instead of listened to.
When making this level of financial investment, we absolutely must get the details right for an entire generation of Cranston's children. It's time for a time out.