Parents Want To See Aquatic Center In Athens’ Future

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With the city of Athens looking at the possibility of replacing its current city pool, some area parents say they’d like to see the city invest in an accessible aquatic center.

On Saturday, The Messenger visited the Athens City Pool — which was opened in 1971 and at the end of its useful life — to ask parents what they’d like to see in a new pool.

Jenn Pero of Athens purchased a family pool pass for the first time this season for her and her four children: Rylee, 2; Luke, 4; Alex, 7; and Kyle, 10. She said she likes the current separation from the kiddie pool for little kids and the main pool, however said she’d like to see a new pool with a gradual entry like that at the Nelsonville Aquatic Center.

Pero said her second child was a bit skittish of the water at first, but was able to get more comfortable with swimming due to the gradual incline at the Nelsonville pool.

“If the city is going to do it, they should do it right,” Pero said, adding that there need to be a few more splash-related activities such as slides and water buckets to keep the children occupied.

She said that her children get bored with the pool by the middle of the summer.

Valerie Elliott agreed. She said she likes the Athens City Pool, but there aren’t enough activities to keep children interested for more than a couple hours. Elliott said her family travels to the Marietta Aquatic Center at least three times a summer for a change of pace.

Elliott’s husband Brandon said he’d like to see some slides for children in the pool’s next chapter.

The couple’s nine-year-old daughter Emerson said she’d also like to see multiple, improved diving boards. She said she and her friends often have to wait in long lines for the diving boards, which she said are slippery.

“The Marietta Aquatic Center is a lovely place,” said Andrea Anderson of Athens, who has two children, 5 and 11. She said the Marietta facility is a water park that is compact enough so that parents can keep an eye on their children.

Anderson said she’d like to see the new Athens pool be near the bike path so that residents — especially school-aged children — can bike to the facility. She said she also likes the idea of a new pool being built at a different location while the current pool stays open.

The city’s Arts, Parks and Recreation Department recently completed a new master plan with the aid of an advisory committee. One of the top priorities laid out in the master plan is the need to build a new swimming pool or aquatic center.

The advisory committee has recommended that the city of Athens place a 0.1 percent renewal recreation income tax on the November ballot to help pay for a new pool and other arts, parks and recreation improvements. If passed by voters, the tax would be implemented on Jan. 1, 2017. The city currently has a 20-year, 0.1 percent income tax that was implemented in 1997 to pay for the Athens Community Center, which was completed in 2000. That tax will expire on Dec. 31, 2016.