Athens Pool Timeline Extended, Mayor Says

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City Council and city officials have not come to a consensus on the Athens city pool, but one thing that was made clear at Monday’s council committee meetings was that having a new pool by next summer will not be the case.

MSA Sports, who was commissioned by the city to design the new pool options, gave officials three options for the pool, including concepts with a zero-depth entry leisure pool, a splash pad, the lap pool that was asked for by community residents at the public forum, and a diving well.

Mayor Steve Patterson said the city has asked MSA to do a cost assessment for putting the pool in the current spot, which would not allow the pool to be opened next summer.

“This time frame, no matter how far we pushed them and tried to get them to build out a swimming pool of whatever type, we’re not going to make an opening of next summer,” Patterson told the council.

He said an option of building the pool in another portion of the Athens Community Center complex would allow for the existing swimming pool to be used.

However, Keith Hall, principal designer at MSA Sports, said at a July public meeting on the pool that a study by consulting firm Brandstetter Carroll, Inc. showed that the current pool would not last more than another season. Hall even expressed his doubts that it would last through the 2017 season.

“The study said…that pool is on life support,” Hall said.

The study also stated that the priority was an outdoor pool and plans for a future indoor pool facility, something discussed at Monday’s meeting.

Council member Patrick McGee asked when the decision was made to take an indoor natatorium off the table for now. Patterson said discussions about how to stretch the levy money to include construction of an indoor facility led to the conclusion that an indoor natatorium could wait, and that trying to build indoor and outdoor facilities with the levy funding would be irresponsible.

“You’re going to end up, at the end of the day, with a subpar swimming facility if you do that,” Patterson said. “You’re going to get a little kiddie pool and an indoor facility which is not really anything to write home about.”

The project was expected to cost a total of $6.45 million, which includes estimated construction costs and payment to the design team, according to a contract provided to WOUB by the City of Athens. The money would be taken from a 20-year income tax levy that was approved in November 2015 to fund arts, parks and recreation improvements.

Patterson is now estimating a $5.7 million budget for the outdoor pool, which he says will allow for a quality pool while leaving money from the levy for other arts and recreation purposes.