WILLIAMSON — Swimmers and sun bathers around the Williamson area have been concerned if the Williamson City Pool will open this season, next season or ever open again.
Several members of the park board met with Williamson Daily News on Friday to discuss why the swimming pool didn’t open this year and what their options were for opening it next year.
The park board did have potential plans on not opening the pool for the summer of 2015 to utilize its money to make improvements on other park facilities, but other stumbling blocks were in the way as well.
“It has been an interesting challenge this summer. There are costs to run the pool each summer which total around $70,000 per year,” said park board vice-president Steve Wilson.
Last year the park board made only $30,000 for the entire pool season, which left them $40,000 short. The board said they wanted to use what money they had in a responsible way and utilize it wisely toward its other facilities to get them in better condition. Improvements are already being made on those recreational facilities.
The swimming pool, which was built in 1971, has numerous problems that need attention, however the main one is the pool’s pump. The pump needs more than only replaced parts, as the entire thing has to be replaced due do the severity of damage and the age of the pump.
The park board did receive $15,000 from the state to repair the pump. The pump will be repaired this summer, but repairs will not be complete until around July 1, which would leave the pool open only about one month this year.
“To open the pool in July would not be feasible after buying chemicals and paying for labor for such a short time,” said Wilson. “The pool is utilized most from Memorial Day through July 4 and opening the pool this year would already exceed that time frame.”
The park board is looking into finding ways to get more funding to improve the pool for the future. At one point the Mingo County Commission (MCC) offered to pay for slides to add more to the pool but requested that the park board pay for the installation of those slides. The slides would have cost the MCC close to $100,000 and would have cost the park board near that same amount for installation, which is why the slides were never purchased or installed.
“We do plan on having the pool open on time for the 2016 season next year. We are aware of the problems and are in the process of working on it,” stated Wilson. “We are also aware of the smell coming from the water and problem with the mosquitoes that it is causing and we are addressing that problem as quickly as possible.”
Some have suggested to simply drain the water from the swimming pool but the damages from doing so would cause extensive damage. The Park Board is looking into ways of keeping the water moving to prevent the problem. One idea is to temporarily place fountains in the pool.
“If we drain the water from the pool and leave it empty, the walls would fall in causing damages that can not be repaired,” said park board member Helen Stanley.
The board is asking that residents and all those who utilize the swimming pool to be as patient as can be with them as they are working on a better pool season for next year.
They also want people to know that the upstairs room above the pool entrance is still available to rent for use of parties and so on. The picnic area is also available, but the pool area will be roped off and that section not permitted to use for safety reasons.