KINGSPORT - After years of delays, patching and repair work, efforts to replace the Legion Pool with an aquatics facility are finally under way.
Kingsport's Parks and Recreation Department has hired an aquatics consultant from Georgia to update a 2002 study of Legion Pool and return with recommendations on what the city should do with the aging facility.
David Markey conducted the 2002 study and suggested the city demolish the Legion Pool and replace it with two smaller pools (competition and play), a waterslide feature and a new bathhouse - all with an estimated cost of $2.46 million.
Kitty Frazier, parks and recreation director, said Markey will be the one conducting the updated study on Legion Pool and should return with his findings in the next couple of months.
"David will revisit the information he had before as well as update it and look at any new parameters that have changed since his study in 2002 in order to give us more current information where we can hopefully make some decisions about what our best options might be," Frazier said. "He will look at the existing pool, demographics, changes in other aquatic venues, and what other communities are doing to see where we are now and what we should be doing.
"Then we will identify options that might be relevant toward today's environment."
The cost of the updated study is expected to be $5,000 to $6,000, Frazier said.
Built in 1975 on the site of the old city pool, the Legion Pool is a traditional L-shaped pool designed to accommodate swim meets. The site includes a restaurant, kiddie pool, two slides and three diving boards. The cost to build the 550,000-gallon pool was $520,000.
The 32-year-old-pool loses more than 30,000 gallons of water a day. Between 5 percent and 10 percent of that water is lost through normal evaporation, water splashing out of the pool and through overflow.
For years now, city leaders have included Legion Pool renovations on various capital improvement "wish lists," but a major renovation of the pool has not taken place. Legion Pool renovations got bumped from the city's plans a few years back when the city built new soccer and ball fields.
In addition, funds set aside for renovations at Legion Pool have been raided for other projects - at least $700,000 over the past eight years. Just under $500,000 now exists in the Legion Pool fund.
On a more positive note, City Manager John Campbell has earmarked more than $6.1 million over the next three years toward the replacement of Legion Pool. The funds were listed in the city's proposed capital improvement plan - a plan that will likely be modified before being approved by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen.
Last week during a called meeting to discuss the city's capital improvement plan, Campbell said putting back Legion Pool in its current form would not give the city a major return on its investment.
"If we're going to do something, we should think about doing something different," Campbell said.
Frazier said the $6 million figure is a rough estimate of what an aquatics facility could cost, by looking at recent construction projects elsewhere across the country.
Frazier said her observation is the Legion Pool is past its ability to be renovated and should be replaced.
"We made it through another season with patching, but we continue to have continual water leakage and loss though the pool shell and piping. It continues to deteriorate," Frazier said. "The patching is just not getting us stabilized anymore, and the infrastructure is starting to fail - the pipes, the filters and the pumps. If you did any type of renovation on the shell, that's not going to be supported by this infrastructure.
"I think it's time to look at a total replacement. What type and what it might look like, I think there are lots of options out there, and that's part of what we hope David will help us to identify, what are some of the best options for us to consider."