Memorial Day Weekend is right around the corner, and to get ready for the unofficial start to summer, Johnson City Parks and Recreation Department filled the Legion Street pool Thursday.
The pool has been a fixture in Johnson City for almost sixty years, and the aging watering hole has a history of costly leaks.
Over the past few years, city leaders have considered closing the pool, which opens for its 55th summer on Monday. But every year, they decide having a pool with problems is better than having no pool at all.
Now, Parks and Recreation Director Roger Blakeley says something needs to be done. “The pool has reached the end of its useful life,” he said.
“I swam in the pool the day it opened, that’s how old it was… I was a kid!” said Commissioner Jenny Brock, remembering the pool’s opening more than five decades ago.
Blakeley says the pool has reached its age limit. “You’ve gone double; you’re almost 60 years on that pool. Most municipal pools are done at 30,” he told commissioners.
He said the Parks and Recreation department has worked to keep the pool operating well into its sixth decade, patching problems as they come up.
“The pool structure itself is safe, it’s not going to faIl, it’s not going to cavitate and go away. It’s there, it’s just old,” Blakeley said.
He said because of the pool’s problems, it costs a few thousand dollars extra each year to operate, which ultimately costs less than a brand new pool.
“So, can we make it go another day? Yeah. If it has a catastrophic failure, I’ll come to you and say it’s finally to that point, but for now we can make it happen and we can make it work,” he said.
But, Blakeley also told commissioners the time has come to have a serious discussion about retiring the Legion Street pool.
Vice Mayor Clayton Stout, agreed. “We’re realists to know that the time has come where that pool is going to have to retire and we’re going to have to go to Plan B and get a plan to then create another area of recreation for our children and the community,” Stout said.
Replacing the Legion Street pool is part of the Parks and Recreation department’s 20 year Master Plan, and will cost up to $3 million.
The City Commission plans to meet with the Parks and Recreation Board to discuss the Master Plan.
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