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Save the Youth Club

Save the Youth Club

Dear Editor,

An open letter to Chea Sophara, Governor of Phnom Penh Municipality.

I am concerned by the Phnom Penh Post article "Sparks fly over US Wat Phnom

embassy plan" (Aug 18).

As a member of the Youth Club and a regular swimmer there over the past four years,

it has been possible to observe that the minimal maintenance and few minor changes

that have been made at the Youth Club have lacked the coherent overview necessary

for a modern sports center.

While [the Youth Club's original] building could well be preserved for posterity,

it covers an insignificant portion of the site which has a surface area of nearly

two hectares. The other buildings are a little run-down and of no particular heritage

value.

Sir, the real value of this site is that which is never encompassed in the parameters

of the calculations of your economic advisors. That value is the Youth Club site's

contribution to the quality of life of the people of Phnom Penh.

In the name of real progress for Phnom Penh today and for future generations, I trust

you will have the wisdom and presence of mind to preserve this priceless site for

the purpose it was originally designed.

Ever increasing numbers of young people are leaving the rural areas and their traditional

social and moral structures and moving to the cities. It's time to consider these

cities as social communities moving toward a better future, and time that property

was considered more than merely an article for business speculation and transactions.

Now more than ever the components of a city's infrastructure that contribute and

enhance healthy lifestyles need to be studied, protected and developed.

Today the Youth Club is the only 50 meter pool open in Phnom Penh.

A first-class renovation with deck-level overflow channels would cost half the price

of building a new pool. The upgrading of this site with its ample parking and lush

gardens in the heart of Phnom Penh deserves serious consideration.

As a community development project this haven of tranquillity would be eligible for

and open to a wide range of benevolent support.

It can only be hoped that this will be the case and that Phnom Penh will be given

time and the vital space necessary to become a capital city that others envy.

- Damien Morrison, Phnom Penh

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