It's going to be a splish-splashing good summer.
Mayor Nutter announced yesterday that the city has raised enough cash to open all its public pools for the summer.
Philadelphia's second annual Splash and Summer FUNd generated the $600,000 necessary to keep 70 city-owned pools open. Two other pools will be converted into spray grounds.
Budget constraints last year prevented 27 pools from opening in the summer.
"In Philadelphia, keeping our swimming pools open during the summer is important to maintaining a strong sense of community in which friends and neighbors can connect," Nutter said yesterday at a news conference at Sacks Playground in South Philadelphia.
First Niagara Financial Group donated $400,000 to the fund. Other donors included the Philadelphia Parking Authority and Temple University.
The city's pools are "important to the quality of life," said John R. Koelmel, chief executive of First Niagara.
According to the Department of Recreation, about a million people use Philly pools each summer.
Recreation Commissioner Susan Slawson said: "It's an opportunity to keep up the Philadelphia tradition where people who can't afford to go to the Shore can go to their neighborhood pools."
The pools will provide 800 jobs for the city's youth, including 400 seasonal maintenance aides and 400 lifeguards, according to a news release.
The Splash and Summer FUNd began last year as a three-year effort to supplement the city budget to open and maintain city pools.
"It came about because of the global financial crisis," said Alain Joinville, public-affairs coordinator for the Department of Recreation. "In three years the thought is that we will be out of this global financial crisis."
First Niagara also created a $250,000 grant program for 13 YMCA associations and 35 Y branches in the metropolitan area to fund free swimming lessons for thousands of children.
Keeping the pools open "gives the kids something to do besides hang in the streets," said George Washington Elementary student Zaire Holmes, 13, who was invited to speak yesterday at the playground at 4th Street and Washington Avenue.
Holmes said the pools mean "less violence and more fun ways to have fun during the summer."