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News Macon rec park pool due for an upgrade

Lifeguards at the Macon County Pool located at the Recreation Park are on the job just after noon on Monday.Board of commissioners taking bids on renovations.

Since the Macon County public pool was first constructed in 1974, its infrastructure and design has remained unchanged. Aside from the occasional coat of paint, or applying a mix of sand and paint to keep the floors slip resistant, no substantial maintenance projects have been ordered for the pool, which according to commissioners, needs to be addressed.

During a recessed meeting last Thursday night, Seth Adams, director of Macon County Recreation Department spoke to commissioners about the state of the pool facility. According to Adams, because of the change in laws and regulations, if an upgrade is done to the pool or the adjoining facility housing the showers, the entire facility must be renovated to meet ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) standards.

As an older facility, as ADA accessibility standards have changed over the years, Macon County's pool facility has been grandfathered in and has not been forced to upgrade in order to be compliant. As the facility currently stands, it could not pass an ADA inspection. With a tightening budget each year, Adams made only minimal changes to the facility in order to prevent a costly renovation.

According to Commissioner Chair Kevin Corbin, the Macon County pool should be renovated because it has provided generations of children safe fun during summer months. “I remember taking swimming lessons in that pool when I was a teenager,” said Corbin. “And the facility looked exactly the same then as it does today. The pool was the crown jewel of Macon County for many years, and I think it is our responsibility to look at ways to improve it and bring that back to the residents.”

Commissioners Ronnie Beale and Bobby Kuppers both commended Adams for his leadership in maintaining exceptional facilities throughout the recreation department and agreed that the pool should be upgraded to match the quality of the other facilities.

According to Adams, an initial estimate on the cost to upgrade the pool and shower facility would be between $300,000 to $400,000. The new facility that Adams proposed includes the addition of a new “kiddie” pool for toddlers. The current pool is one body of water, which can provide problems if a younger child has an accident in the pool. By constructing a separate area for the kids, the pool staff would be able to avoid having to shut down the entire facility if an accident was to occur.

The proposed plans also include a “splash pad” with a mushroom dome for visitors to play under. Neighboring Jackson County has a similar layout.

The pool is open from June until August to accommodate the school’s calendar. Adams said he would hope the renovations would be done after this season and will be completed by summer of 2013.

Still in the early stages of the process, commissioners only advised County Manager Jack Horton to contract out an architect to develop plans for the facility. After a proposed blueprint is developed, the county can bid out the job in order to get a more definite price. By allowing plans to be developed, commissioners are in no way obligated to continue with the project if the budget doesn't allow, as the renovations are just a proposed concept at this time.

Commissioner Jimmy Tate also told commissioners that the pool in Highlands is in need of repairs and gave the board an estimate of $20,000 to $25,000 for needed renovations to that facility. Commissioners advised Horton to get an estimate from a contractor to bundle both pool upgrades together.


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