Kingsport closed the Legion Pool at the end of the 2012 season, after 37 years of service, upon the recommendation of the Kingsport’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Board (PRAB). The stated reasons were the expected cost of maintaining the facility, projected to be $142,000 this year, and the likely low attendance after the aquatic center opens later this spring.
The PRAB also recommended the facility be demolished as soon as possible, but as of last week no time frame has been set on when the actual demolition would take place. Kingsport has received a verbal estimate on what the demolition could cost the city — $100,000.
“That was primarily for budgetary purposes and it could potentially be less or more, depending on what the future use of the property is going to be,” said Chris McCartt, assistant to the city manager. “And there’s so many different variables and various hazards involved in demolition. Some buildings have asbestos or lead-based paint.”
In all likelihood, the demolition of the Legion Pool will take place later this summer after the new fiscal year budget has been approved in June.
One piece of Legion Pool that will survive the demolition will be a steel beam that has all of the names of the lifeguards who have served at Legion Pool over the past 37 years. The PRAB has requested this beam be preserved and installed in the new aquatic center as public art, McCartt said.
“There are some things (at Legion Pool) that are salvageable and there’s definitely a lot of elements that will be recycled, whether it’s brick or concrete and any type of metal,” McCartt said. “Hopefully some of the pipes (recently installed) will have another life after being recycled.”
As the aquatic center discussions were taking place among city staff and elected officials who knew Legion Pool would eventually be shut down and replaced with some type of water feature, city staff commissioned Barge Waggoner Sumner & Cannon about two years ago to work up a conceptual drawing of a transformed Legion Pool site.
This Legion Pool Master Plan shows the property completely transformed with a number of parklike amenities such as a multi-use field and three basketball half-courts (each with terraced seating), three picnic pavilions, a playground and mobility path around the field and two water features, with one described as a man-made stream. Other features include public art, restrooms, decorative fencing and a reconfigured parking lot around the Civic Auditorium.
Though a master plan for the site has been drafted, no decision has been made on the future use of the Legion Pool property.
McCartt said he believes a decision on the Legion Pool site will be made within the next two to three months. Ultimately, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen has the final decision on what to do with the property.
The Kingsport Board of Education has also expressed an interest in the Legion Pool site as a possible location for new tennis courts. The BOE has publicly stated the school system is interested in any property that comes available within the Dobyns-Bennett High School triangle — the property surrounded by Eastman Road, Fort Henry Drive and Center Street.
“As D-B continues to grow, with an estimated freshman class of at least 620 students, space will continue to be a potential issue,” said Randy Montgomery, BOE chairman. “At this time there is not a specific use for the property, but the school system wants to be sure the property is easily available as needs arise.”