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Finance Director Steve Park said there is a misperception circulating around Elizabethtown that the American Legion Park pool’s demise means an end to all city-sponsored aquatic ventures.
Park and members of Elizabethtown City Council argued the old pool must go before the city has the financial resources and flexibility to explore new options.
“We took action to at least get some action,” Councilman Marty Fulkerson argued.
Ultimately, the city gave Mayor Edna Berger permission Monday to explore potential designs for a new pool to determine what possibilities exist.
The city closed the pool for the final time this summer because of its age, high maintenance costs, an inability to staff it with lifeguards and a shortened swimming season. There also was the $2 million replacement cost to consider, Park said.
Fulkerson said the city has been funneling good money after bad for the last several years, which barred it from seriously exploring an alternative.
Councilman Terry Shipp has been one of the strongest advocates for keeping a pool because the city’s youth need a resource they can flock to, he said.
Shipp argued Monday that pools are built better and more durable than they were 50 years ago. Maintenance is not as expensive, he said, because the pools are more economical and easier to repair.
“I believe we need a swimming pool,” he said.
Shipp said the option he envisions is a “zero-entry” pool that removes the need for a children’s pool and benefits residents of all ages. He recommended the city install a spray park in combination with the pool.
The city put money into its budget this year to remove the pool and raze the bath house with an expectation to pursue a spray park.
Councilman Ron Thomas said the city has explored most options during the last five years and seemed to reach a consensus on a spray park, which would provide an aquatic facility without the need for lifeguards. The city’s research also found the trend was for cities to close their pools, officials said.
“I think the kids just like to get wet,” Councilman Tony Bishop said.
Berger believes a spray park is inadequate for Elizabethtown’s needs because children cannot learn to swim on a platform that shoots geysers of water.
Shipp first proposed developing a high-quality water park, but Berger said it would be “ridiculously expensive” and Park said the city does not have the space for it.
The American Legion Park pool has “outlived its useful age” and the city needs to find an attractive replacement that is not “an embarrassment to look at,” Park said.
He proposed demolishing the bath house this month to spur movement by the council.
“I’d still like to turn the bulldozer loose and make you do something,” he said.
Park suggested the city consider hiring a firm that specializes in pool design to develop designs. Thomas said he was in favor of the city looking at multiple options to determine what is feasible.
“I’d like to see a plan,” he said.
Marty Finley can be reached at 270-505-1762 or email@example.com.