The local pool, a staple of Athens since 1972, is set to be demolished this month by a construction company the city recently partnered with.
The city accepted a bid from Gutknecht Construction on July 28 to build a new outdoor hub to replace the existing 45-year-old community pool. The city budgeted $6.9 million for the project.
Construction was scheduled to begin Aug. 28, soon after the pool closes for the summer. The new pool will be built on the existing site, 701 E. State St. Demolition will cost $85,000 to $90,000, according to a report from MSA Sport, which completed a design for the city. Deputy Service Safety Director Ron Lucas said the city hopes the project will be completed by May 18, 2018.
“We’re going to go forward quickly in terms of work and construction,” he said. “We don’t want our community to miss out on a pool season. We want to have it done for our community to enjoy.”
Gutknecht initially proposed that the project would cost $7.25 million based on the design from MSA Sport. To bring cost down to $6.9 million, the city and Gutknecht agreed to remove some proposed amenities, such as one of the water slides and the canopy over the concession stand.
The money for the new pool comes from a levy that passed in 2014. The ordinance approved a tax increase for 20 years, that began Jan. 1, 2016 and will end Dec. 31, 2035.
Athens City Council President Chris Knisely said the city did not want to wait 20 years to complete the project, so Athens City Council passed an ordinance to secure a bond.
“We can’t wait 20 years for that money to accumulate,” Knisely said. “We have to authorize bonds. … It’s a way of borrowing the money, so it’s all there and available so once we have the design for the pool, we should be able to build it.”
The ordinance said the bond could not exceed $7.3 million, and it must be designated to “swimming pool facilities bond.”
“The whole concept of parks and recreation is important for the quality of life,” Knisely said. “It’s a resource that makes Athens an up-to-date community.”
Kalei Edenfield, a 2016 OU alumna, said she was excited to see the additions the new pool will have.
“I have been to the pool before and found it to be extremely basic but a pool nonetheless,” she said. “It will be a great new addition for everyone in the community. Based on the proposed pictures so far it looks as though it’s going to be a great summer activity for families or even (students).”
Originally published for The Post on August 31, 2017.