Letter to the Editor

First, let me say thank you for your service to our fine city, and for always looking out for what is in the best interests of the citizens of Maumelle, it is a sometimes thankless job, and I commend you each for that.

For those on the Bond Task Force, I also want to thank you for your service.

I have been a Maumelle resident for over eight years now and we love it here. We are in our 10th house since 1992 in eight different locations and when we found Maumelle, we hit the brakes. What a great place to raise a family! I know a few of yours and I know you agree.

I am writing to voice my support over the upcoming discussion about an indoor aquatic center for the city of Maumelle. As some might know, I am the proud Father of three children, the youngest of which has been swimming for the Maumelle Marlins for the past six years, he currently holds two Meet of Champs records swimming for the Marlins in the 13-14 year old age group. For four of the past six years he has also swam year round competitively for the Central Arkansas Racers Swim Club, that participate statewide and are sanctioned by USA swimming. He is currently second in the state in his age group in the 50-meter freestyle. I say all this not to tout his success, but because we have spent the last six years ferrying him all over the state to swim meets, Marlins practices, Racers practices (three times a week, two and half fours per), etc., and his hard work has paid off, only because we had the ability to drive all over the state to practice/swim. Many do not have that luxury.

Obviously the Marlins have a great setup with the use of the Community Center pool for summer practice and meets. The Racers are a different story because they practice year round and participate in a spring and fall league. We have used the "Y" on the west side of Little Rock before, and are currently practicing at both the North Little Rock Boys and Girls Club, and the Bryant Aquatic center. We have to fight (and pay) for lane space with other competitive swim teams from all over Central Arkansas (those same teams could be paying us!).

As my son has now begun 9th grade at Maumelle High, the school has introduced this year, for the first time, a swim team to compete against other high schools in the area. Coach Mark Bugg is having a very difficult time securing practice space for a team that will be comprised of many kids who are swimming for the first time. Practice is crucial in swimming to develop endurance, strokes, turns, etc.

An aquatic center was proposed in the past, and I understand why that proposal was eliminated. By the time any aquatic center would possibly be constructed, my swimmer will likely be in college (hopefully on a swimming [scholarship]!) so this does not benefit us personally. However, because of our participation of the competitive swimming environment that exists within our community/state, I am keenly aware of how much an aquatic center would mean to us. There are many kids here that are just starting out in swimming and it is the most healthy sport that you could be involved in, but unfortunately, the Marlins season only lasts 6-8 weeks, and then it is over. How are we going to feed the high school team with new swimmers who have never been taught the basics of the different strokes?

Lastly, this is my city. We chose to call this home, and I want what is best for the city of Maumelle and I am willing to pay for the extra amenities that make this community truly great. Strong home prices (that would only increase with added value in the city), a great place to recruit new homeowners to, a somewhat insular community because of the two ways in and out, a real hometown feel. That is what is important to me, and that is why I want you to strongly consider moving forward with the approval of our own indoor aquatic center. I have mentioned a few uses for it here, but the vast uses it could support are too numerous to mention, and many of them could be revenue driven to fund operations.

Thank you for your time in reading this, and for your potential support of our own indoor aquatic center.

Adam R. Hazen