|Sheryl King of Mt. Sterling and served as guardian on a recent honor flight for veteran James Wheeler. For complete details, see the story under community section on this page.
|City pool to be closed this summer
|By Tom Marshall
Senior Advocate writer
The Mt. Sterling City Pool will be closed this summer, the parks and recreation commission announced at a meeting last Friday.
The city operated two pools at the parks and rec park off the Bypass, but one has been closed for some time. The other remaining pool has fallen into a state of disrepair, officials said.
A pool contractor inspected the pool April 18 and concluded that it was unsafe for public use, parks and rec director Patrick Manning said.
Board chairman David Charles said the facility, which has been deteriorating for several years, had decayed to the point that it was starting to collapse. He blamed the use of chemicals and exposure to the elements for the decay of the pool.
The pool is more than 40 years old.
The commission had been patching up the pool for several years, but couldn’t stretch another year out of it, officials said.
Charles said he understands the public will be disappointed, but it became a safety situation beyond the board’s control.
“We can’t have children in it ... it wouldn’t be safe for them and that’s our primary concern,” Charles said.
Other board members present at the meeting—James Davis, Shelly Williams and Jason Oney—also expressed disappointment with the situation.
“I hate that for the kids,” Davis said.
The park in which the pool is located will remain open. The basketball courts have long been another popular attraction at the park.
The pool had also been home to the Mt. Sterling Gators summer swim team and the Montgomery County High School team.
Lainey Neal, coach of both teams, said the Gators are currently trying to piece together a plan that would allow the team to continue competing this summer. She said the situation could also be a long-term problem for the high school program.
“It’s a huge, huge loss for the community,” she said. “I understand it’s a safety issue, but it’s going to be a hardship for the future of the swimming program for sure.”
Neal said the Gators may have to compete at all road meets.
Parks and rec currently has a company, Brandstetter Carroll of Lexington, working on a feasibility study for a new aquatics center. The company has been asked to speed up that process, Charles said.
The company is expected to complete a report for the parks and rec board in the next 30 days, Manning said, and that should include cost estimates on a new facility.
Manning said he realizes the announcement will come as a huge disappointment to the public that had come to look to the pool for much of their summer entertainment.
“I obviously hate it for the community,” he said. “We’ve got a ton of people who come up here, we’ve got the swim team, swim lessons, numerous things that go on at the pool. Not having it is going to be devastating for the community. Hopefully, with that feasibility study we can make a huge upgrade.”
Charles has the same hopes.
“It’s unfortunate for the kids in the community, but it ultimately will lead to something bigger and better,” Charles said.
“From this we rebuild and rebuild better and have a better facility,” he added.
Manning said the board will have to look at various funding sources, including grants, a possible partnership with the school district and private donations.
Neal said she hopes she and Gators supporters will be able to give advice on a new facility.
Ideally, the two swim programs would like to have an indoor/outdoor facility for competitive swimming, she said.
The community has discussed a new swimming facility for several years.
When plans were drawn up for the Clay Community Center, space was set aside for an indoor swim facility next to the building, but that never materialized.
Later, there was discussion of bringing a YMCA to Mt. Sterling, but those talks failed to generate the needed support.
Many of the community’s current competitive swimmers go to the YMCA in Paris to practice.
The school system also uses the pool for summer camps.
In other action at last week’s meeting, the board:
• Discussed construction of a stage behind the pavilion at Botts Park that could be used for community and school events.
The estimated cost of materials for the project is about $25,000. Work would be done by parks and rec employees, officials said.
• Discussed holding “Friday Night Flicks” events in which a movie would be shown for the public during the summer at one of the parks in conjunction with the Mt. Sterling Kiwanis Club.
• Announced that parks and rec will participate in a summer feeding program for local children.
• Discussed establishment of a community garden at Easy Walker Park.
• Discussed holding year-round registration for youth sports programs.
• Discussed hosting a golf scramble or other events to raise money to pay for new softball equipment.
• Was informed that an individual had approached Charles about establishing an area honoring veterans at Botts Park.
The commission will meet again in regular session noon Friday, May 19, at the city pool office. Meetings are open to the public.