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Jo Clifton is the Politics Editor for the Austin Monitor.
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Free swimming for the Cookseys
Thursday, June 18, 2015 by Jo Clifton
Former Mayor Frank Cooksey and his wife, Lynn, are likely to be the recipients of a lifetime swim pass at Barton Springs Pool. Although City Council will vote on honoring them with the passes today, it is likely the city will devise a less complicated way to allow other residents over the age of 80 to swim at Barton Springs for free. The issue came up because Council Member Ora Houston pulled the item from Tuesday’s work session agenda to ask how the decision to give the Cookseys free passes arose. Parks and Recreation Department Assistant Director Kimberly McNeeley explained that there was a committee in 1993 that created a complicated procedure by which people could nominate residents over age 85 to whom Barton Springs was meaningful to receive free passes with Council approval. She said the policy was amended in 2003 to change the age to 80. Houston said she was all in favor of the Cookseys being able to swim for free but did not think the program should be limited to those who have the political connections to secure a nomination. Anyone over 80 who wants to swim at Barton Springs Pool should have a free pass, she said. Several Council members who spoke about the item agreed with her, including Mayor Steve Adler and Council members Sheri Gallo and Leslie Pool. Council Member Don Zimmerman disagreed and wanted the question of free passes referred to a committee, including the proposed passes for the former mayor and his wife. Adler said he would refer the policy, but not the issue of passes for the Cookseys, to the Parks and Open Space Committee. Zimmerman said he would vote against the passes today.
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