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In seeking to bridge a $75 million budget gap for the fiscal year that begins July 1, Houston Mayor Annise Parker announced last month the proposed pool and community center closures, as well as the layoffs of 747 city employees, according to the newspaper.
Independence Heights stood to take two hits, as the only community in the city to lose both its community center and city pool to the budget cuts. The neighborhood was the oldest independently governed black community in Texas prior to its 1929 annexation by the city.
"This is life-changing," said Tory Gunsolley, president and CEO of the Houston Housing Authority. "This saves lives. It is so important that these kids have a place to go every day."
The city still needs to hire lifeguards, but the pools will open July 1 if those lifeguards are at their posts, said Joe Turner, director of the city's Parks and Recreation Department. The community centers will open July 5, he said.