By STEVE EIGHINGER
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
Ben Bumbry calls it the "rainbow effect," the coming together of black and white kids — and their families — that is now being seen at Jackson-Lincoln Swimming Complex on the city's northwest side.
"We'll miss that rainbow effect if … the pool has to close," an emotional Bumbry said on Tuesday.
Bumbry is the only executive director the facility has known since it opened in 1997. He has been on hand almost every day at the 701 N. Eighth site during the past 16 summers. He remembers when Jackson-Lincoln opened, the pool was used predominantly by the black population of the city in that part of town.
Only things have changed, especially in recent years. The color line has gradually faded away.
"We are now seeing Caucasian kids – and their parents, more than ever before," Bumbry said. "People in Quincy have to realize how important this pool is. It hurts … it hurts my heart to think this may have to close."
The Jackson-Lincoln complex is in danger of having to shut down operations due to an unexpected funding shortfall of about $20,000. The pool operates on private donations and grants, and there is only enough money left to keep it open through the first week in July — six weeks short of its normal closing time.
Jackson-Lincoln was required to make physical changes to be ADA compliant, including the addition of a $4,700 step system. The complex was also required to replace its 15-year-old filtration system at a cost of $7,500. Those expenditures, coupled with a shortfall in private and in-kind donations this year, have caused a $20,000 gap in the budget.
Last year, 5,964 children and adults used the pool, according to Jackson-Lincoln records.
"We owe it to Mr. Black and the kids of Quincy to keep this pool open," Bumbry said.
The late Bill Black and his wife, Ann, longtime Quincy benefactors, paid for construction of the pool in 1997. The non-profit facility is governed by a board of directors, consisting of neighbors and community leaders.
"This facility was founded on one family's vision and generosity," Board President Carol Lewis said. "We hope the Quincy community will imitate that spirit of charity and donate to the Jackson-Lincoln Pool."
The pool takes its name from Jackson School, which formerly occupied the site, and Lincoln School, formerly at 10th and Spring.
Black owned Quincy Carbonate and other firms. His civic contributions included overseeing work on Blessing Hospital, creating a Boy Scout camp and work for the Historical Society of Quincy and Adams County. He died May 25, 1997, a little more than two months before the pool opened.
"This facility is more than just a swimming pool," Bumbry said. "It is a community — a safe place where our neighborhood kids and families can have fun and spend time together."
As word has spread in recent days about the possible closing of the pool, Bumbry said he has been approached by numerous kids who frequent the site.
"The kids are worried," Bumbry said. "They have said they want to hold car washes, do anything they can to help."
Bumbry says he has faith in the people of Quincy.
"There's a lot of good people out there who have helped us in the past," he said. "We have kept up the facility as good as possible, but things wear out ... and there is no emergency fund.
"I'm worried right now, and I feel a little uneasy ... we need help."
To donate to the Jackson Lincoln Swimming Complex, mail a check to P.O. Box 176, Quincy, IL 62305 or call (217) 228-4514.