Home City This is why Athens is spending $7 million on a new pool

This is why Athens is spending $7 million on a new pool

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Athens may not have a Target, but it’s about to have its own little water park. The price tag is huge, but City Council has its reasons for the new pool. 

Over the summer, Athens City Council approved a plan to replace the community pool. Not just with one new one, but four — and two water slides. The four pools are divided off as a leisure pool, a “tot” pool, a water playground and a dive well connected to a competition pool. The goal is to have the pool ready by Memorial Day of 2018.

The lap pool and diving well alone are estimated to cost between $1,267,500 and $3 million, making it the most expensive part of the setup. The least expensive pool will be the “tot pool,” which is estimated to cost between $135,000 and $148,000. The total estimated cost of the project is $6,997,921. To pay for it all, the city took out a $7.3 million bond.

The idea for a new pool came from a levy, which City Council approved in June. According to Councilman Peter Kotsis, the hashing out of the plans was a “long, well thought out process.”

Kotsis said it took at least three years with the help of two pool design companies, Branstetter and Carroll, Inc. and MSA Pool Services, to settle on what elements the pool would entail. After choosing the latter pool services, the council decided on a design similar to Nelsonville’s community pool.

The new pool will be built over the old one, which has been around since 1971. The old pool was “limping along” and was “held together by spit and gum,” Kotsis said. He claimed that to keep the old pool and keep fixing it wouldn’t have been fiscally responsible, listing the pool pump and the lining as two recent problems.

Along with the construction, however, comes the cutting down of several older trees. In fact, one of the biggest concerns was that some of the trees that were uprooted were around 50 years old, Kotsis said.

“We were told they were going to try and preserve as many large trees as they could,” David Ingram, Chair of the Shade Tree Commission, said.

One concern of the Shade Tree Commission is a large oak tree, which was left standing within the fenced area in the midst of the construction. They’re unsure whether it will fall like the rest, or if the contractor will leave it standing after several other mature trees were cut, like two full cyprus trees, which Ingram brought up at a meeting.

“They weren’t mature yet, but they were quite big. I think they were at least 12 inches, they might have been 18 inches across,” Ingram said.

“Those trees have taken probably 20 years to get to that size. And so, if you think about trying to plant to replace them, you either have to wait for another 20 years before you get the same tree, or you have to spend an awful lot of money to buy a tree that looks that big and winding.”

Ingram also suggested it was important to hire an architect who designs around existing trees.

“One of the biggest challenges is the management of the site,” Ingram said, and suggested fencing off the trees to protect the roots from vehicles and building materials.

But Ingram also expected some trees to come down for the plan to follow through. Discussion of replacing the pool had long been in the works, having started in the early 2000s. Now, Kotsis said City Council had decided that they had “let it go on long enough.”

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