Pool concept

This concept image, provided by MSA Architects earlier this year, shows what the design of the new Athens Pool will look like, for the most part (minus one water slide).

The city of Athens is drawing close to having a final design for its new outdoor city pool, with construction set to begin in late August as soon as the current pool season comes to a close.

Keith Hall, principal of pool design consultant MSA Architects (of Cincinnati and Columbus), said during a presentation at an Athens City Council committee meeting Monday that the new pool likely will have a salt-water chlorination system. That will increase the initial cost of the pool but eventually pay for itself with cheaper operational costs than a normal chlorination system.

The ordinance approving final design and construction of the pool probably will be introduced to Athens City Council during that body’s June 5 meeting.

While the final cost estimates of design and construction of the pool are still being determined, according to details reported Monday by Hall, the pool could cost almost $7 million. The city has taken out a $7.3 million bond to pay for design and construction of the pool, and Hall said he’s confident that the final cost of design and construction will meet that budget, although initial estimates of the cost of the pool ranged from $6.2 million to $6.7 million.

“We feel as if we’re on target with the budget and everything,” Hall said. “We are pushing the limits since we did go with the salt-water chlorination-type system.”

However, Hall said that when the project goes out to bid, in order to meet the budget, there may be some “add-alternates,” features that could be added or taken away depending on the cost estimated by the construction contractor. In that way, the cost of the pool is a sliding scale that can be made to fit the city’s budget priorities.

“You may choose… the splash pad for example; that is something that could be built two years down the road that allows you to do the salt-water chlorination generation system now,” Hall said.

The new pool complex will be built over top of the current footprint of the City Pool, which has been in operation since 1971.

According to documents provided by Hall, the pool in its current design has the following possible features:

• A shallow-depth leisure pool.

• A competition pool with eight lanes, along with an adjacent deep-water dive well (about 12 feet in depth). The amount of lap lanes could be reduced in times when they are not being used.

• Water slides (the current design shows two).

• A climbing wall, a “tot pool” and a “splash pad.”

• A pool house, a picnic shelter and a concession stand with an adjacent dining area. 

Hall said his firm thinks the pool complex eventually can be given an “Athens feel” with input from local artists. He said the “Essence of Athens” design booklet created in recent years could help provide a starting point for local artists to put their own imprint on the pool, with potential for painting surfaces or hanging artwork, for example.

City Council member Chris Fahl said she’s pleased that the city opted for the salt-water chlorination system.

Council member Pat McGee said that citizens likely will prefer to have as many features as possible – like the splash pad – and instead hold off, at least initially, on some of the potential artwork that could be added to the complex.

Hall said that the potential “Essence of Athens”-style artwork would be alternate parts of the bid, or could simply come in the future after the initial construction.

Responding to a question from council member Pete Kotses, Hall said that with the salt-water chlorination system, the water of the pool will be easier on users’ eyes. That system also will mean the city won’t need to store chlorine chemicals on-site (the system actively converts salt into chlorine, and the water is about one-10th as salty as ocean water).

McGee said that he’s “concerned” that the lap-lane pool will not be deep enough; Hall said that from what he understands, the depth of the lap-length pool will be about 4-foot-6-inches at its deepest, although he needs to confirm that figure.

McGee said he doesn’t believe that that’s deep enough for most pool users.

Hall confirmed that “heritage trees” located near the current pool will be preserved.

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