Summer is a time parents simultaneously love and harbor some apprehension for — what to do to help children release that pent-up energy while not driving them crazy? Well now, a group of Heights neighbors are banding together in efforts to find that balance while streamlining a sense of community within the burgeoning Houston neighborhood.
Earlier this summer, Heights resident Alex D’Ambrosio and other neighbors were searching far and wide for a way to get a pool in the neighborhood. While the immediate area consists of multiple city pools, D’Ambrosio said the hours and availability were limited, and the neighborhood lacked a community meeting spot, so they took it upon themselves to kick-start the Heights Swim and Social Club.
“We’re at the point where we started a 501 c (7) club. We’re selling bonds that will cover the cost to purchase the land as well as constructing the facilities,” he said.
The idea behind Heights Swim and Social Club, he noted, is the concept of an old-style country club, where those who buy a bond are a member, and when they leave the bond is refunded by somebody on the waiting list.
“Right now, we’re pushing to get awareness of the club. We have 62 members signed up here just within the first few weeks,” he said. “We’ve hit happy hours, we hit the Fun Run, and we’re planning to do a few more things like that.”
For the price of that refundable bond plus less than $100 a month, members would get full access to all the club’s facilities, hopefully including a heated lap pool, family play pool, clubhouse, locker rooms, and snack shack. Club President Aaron Rigamonti said more amenities may be agreed to by the members depending on interest and budget.
“We are simply volunteers trying to make this club happen for our community,” he said. “The community lacks a quality place to go take your kids to go swimming, and I think it’s something we have the wherewithal to go do — it just takes a couple of folks who are passionately committed to making it happen.”
Creating memories, friends
D’Ambrosio said he, and oddly enough many of his neighbors, had unforgettable experiences with this type of club as young kids, and found a common bond in attempting to create those same memories for the children in their neighborhood.
“One of my best memories growing up was riding my bike to the club, staying there until it closed,” he said. “Parents are looking for some place to take their kids on a hot summer day to hang out and have everybody enjoy it, or also someplace parents and adults can relax after work.”
“This has been the hobby we decided to pick up, because it’d be a great thing to have and for our kids to enjoy,” Rigamonti added.
More than a project
In attempting to create these memories, D’Ambrosio said the neighborhood collaboration has instantly made it feel more like home, and hopes Heights Swim and Social Club spurs a similar trend for the area’s children. Collaborating on the project, he said, has does wonders to help the two settle in, and hopes that connection will shine through even more to create a true community gathering spot.
As Houston’s boundaries continue to shift, D’Ambrosio believes that connection plays a role in the Heights’ identity, in which he hopes the club can play its own small role.
“Everybody’s moving into the Heights and trying to find a way and reason to stay there even as they grow their family,” D’Ambrosio said. “They move there for the ability to be close to their neighbors, have the kind of small community feel near downtown. More often that’s a feeling you get in the suburbs, so we’re trying to build it in the Heights.”
Rigamonti echoed the sentiment.
“It hasn’t been an area that people came to and moved away. There’s more people committed to staying there and making it a better place to raise a family,” he said. “I think this is the next logical extension of things we don’t yet have. If you want to raise a family in the neighborhood, this would be a great thing to have.”