Athens Council Gives Go-Ahead For Pool Construction Bids

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After months of discussion and planning, the Athens City Council approved a measure on Monday authorizing the opening of bids for construction of a new city pool.

The city plans to have the pool up constructed in time for next summer’s pool season, according to City Service Safety Director Paula Horan-Moseley. City officials have said the current state of the pool would not support another season, and maintaining the pool has become too costly.

“The pool is limping its way through the summer,” Councilman Kent Butler said Monday night.

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

Drawing courtesy of the City of Athens.
A mock-up of the current plan for the Athens City Pool. Drawing courtesy of the City of Athens.

Keith Hall, principal designer for MSA, previously cited a 2015 study by consulting firm Brandstetter Carroll, Inc., which showed that the priority for the city was an outdoor pool and plans for a future indoor pool facility. The study also showed that the current pool would not last more than another season.

“The study said…that pool is on life support,” Hall said at the September public forum.

The study also said that an outdoor pool would essentially cost the same to the city as the previous one had, whereas an indoor pool would cost the city more.

The pool’s estimated cost is $7.1 million, but that will depend on the bids the city receives. Moseley said the bids will be scrutinized to meet the budget the city wants for the pool.

“If bids don’t go in our favor, we’re looking at maybe a redesign for the pool, then we’d have to come back to council and do it again,” Moseley said.

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.

She said the city planned to open up the project for bids in July.

In other business from the city council meeting, the proposal to ban conversion therapy in the city of Athens will see a full three readings before passage, according to Councilwoman Christine Fahl.

Fahl said she is still working with the city law director on the language of the ordinance.

The council heard from multiple people last week when the measure was introduced at committee meetings. Speakers in favor of the ban included former city council member and former state representative Debbie Phillips and Ohio University LGBT Center head delfin bautista.

At Monday’s meeting, Kim Welter, director of policy and finance for Equality Ohio, and statewide LGBTQ+ activist group, expressed her appreciation for the city’s consideration of a ban.

“(Conversion) therapy happens in Ohio and Ohio’s children need to be protected,” Welter said.

Fahl said she’d been asked by constituents why the ban was necessary in Athens.

“The very fact that the state has not banned it…this gives another tool to educate people about what’s going on,” Fahl said. “Athens is very inclusive and this is another way to make sure that all the citizens in the city feel protected.”

Council also passed a resolution committing the city to a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in accordance with the Paris Agreement.