Johnson City’s Legion Street Pool continues to be a drain for taxpayers, but tonight the city is taking yet another step toward possibly replacing the pool and building a brand new aquatic center.
Representatives from the Johnson City Parks and Recreation Advisory Board are meeting with city commissioners tonight to discuss an updated master plan, which calls for the replacement of the aging, leaking public pool.
Back in May, a Community Watchdog investigation found the 300,000 gallon city pool lost millions of gallons of water last year. Two months into this summer the city’s water bill shows the pool continues to leak. In May and June alone the pool lost almost four times its capacity, according to the water bills.
In late May, the advisory board voted to decommission and demolish the Legion Street Recreation Center. The revised master plan calls for the city to use the existing pool area to build a replacement pool.
“I think it’s important for the community to have an outdoor pool and I think that with the new technology that’s there, the real successful projects have a splash pad, zero entry pool and other amenities to enhance the swimming experience,” Johnson City Parks and Recreation Director Roger Blakeley said.
A new pool wouldn’t be cheap. Blakeley expects it would cost somewhere between $2.5 to $3 million.
Despite the cost Blakeley says he believes city commissioners know they have to do address the pool’s future.
“They understand and it’s really a matter of how we allocate the money and how can we get to the point where we can get the money for a new pool,” he said.
Blakeley says he’s hopeful the pool will only have to deal with one more year of water loss before the city can start moving forward with a plan to replace it altogether. Although the pool is still losing hundreds of thousands of gallons a month he says more people are using it this year compared to 2014.
The city made another attempt in June to try to find out what was causing the massive water loss, but Blakeley says that proved to be unsuccessful. He says a private engineer could not narrow down the location of the leak.
“They said, ‘Yeah, you have a leak, there’s some air that’s being produced and that’s a sign of a leak,'” he said. “They weren’t able to pinpoint where it was. I needed to have new eyes on it, because once you look at something for a long time you kind of get myopic, so I said, ‘Let’s try to bring somebody in and see if they can help us and see if they can see something we couldn’t see and maybe it’s a short, easy fix.’ It doesn’t look like it’s going to be.”
Blakeley says the city remains committed to trying to fix the leak and be as economical as possible in the process. In the meantime, he’s hopeful the city can open a new pool by 2019.
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