By Pfc. Bailey Jester, 1 BCT 1 CD PAO, MND-BJune 30, 2009
BAGHDAD, Iraq - Iraqi children in northeast Baghdad now have a fun place to cool off from the triple digit temperatures of summer.
Thanks to Soldiers of Company E, 1st "Black Knights" Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, attached to the 1st "Ironhorse" Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division Soldiers, and representatives from the Qaim Maqam and the District Advisory Council (DAC) that attended the grand opening of the Sha'ab pool, June 17, the event marks the end of a joint project in repairing the run-down aquatic center located here.
"The pool was designed to provide the families of Sha'ab a safe place for summertime recreation," said Capt. William Murphy, a civil affairs team leader from Waltham, Mass.
Originally built in the early 1980s as the premier recreation facility of the area, the Sha'ab pool needed renovation work after more than 20 years of hard use by area kids and the demanding Baghdad environment, said San Antonio, Texas native, Capt. Brent Kinney, Co. E commander.
"After numerous times of asking and being denied any support from the Government of Iraq, Coalition forces and the United States military supported us," said Ali Muften, the Adhamiyah DAC chairman.
The Sha'ab Neighborhood Advisory Council (NAC), with assistance from the Qaim Maqam, Ministry of Youth and Sport and Coalition Forces developed this renovation project for the area's residents.
The $450,000 project, funded by the Commander's Emergency Response Program, renovated the swimming pool by replacing broken tiles, painting the pools' surface, landscaping, reconstructing the shower and changing rooms and installing new pipe networks for the circulation system. Workers replaced the underground filter system that was corroded and filled with roots and debris from the lack of use for many years.
"Because there were no written plans of the pool, finding the underground filter system was a bit difficult," said Murphy. "Luckily, that was the only real problem we had. The pool will be self-sustaining so no major problems for the pool are foreseen."
"The pool will be run very similar to an American YMCA pool," Murphy added. "There will be a small entrance fee, lifeguards and access to showers and changing rooms."
An entrance fee, of about 50 American cents, will cover expenses such as landscaping, maintenance and security.
"The hope is to see the neighborhood children use the facility as a way to have fun, without getting into trouble," said Ali Muften.