SYLACAUGA – The hot, humid days of summer are here, but residents will have to wait a few more days before they can seek refuge at the municipal pool.
The Norton Avenue pool has been under repair since April. It was meant to be ready by Memorial Day weekend, but work has taken longer than anticipated, delaying summer activities by several weeks.
Pool manager Tom Ledin said the city is working hard to get the pool ready for business.
“We’re almost there,” he said Friday. “I predict us being up and going before the end of this coming week.”
Ledin continued, “As far as swim lessons and all of our usual activities, everything has been postponed two weeks. We still want everyone to get involved with the pool and do the things we’ve always done. It’s just going to be a little bit shorter season. Everything is ready to go. All we have to do is just add water as soon as this work is done.”
So far, contractors have replaced coping around the pool’s edge, which was cracked and falling into the water; replaced tiles around the edge to include depth markers on the inside of the pool; and pressure washed the bottom. This week, they’re repairing major cracks in the deep end that are causing the pool to lose water and chemicals; replacing lights; and the city will repaint lines on the bottom of the pool. The total project will cost roughly $35,000, Ledin said.
Sylacauga Parks and Recreation Department Director Jim Armstrong said Monday that this week’s weather would dictate how fast the work is finished.
“If the stars line up, we will be up and running by next week,” he said, indicating that having the pool open by this weekend is not out of the question.
Armstrong said it would take a day to pump 275,000 gallons of water into the pool from a fire hydrant, and after that, stabilizing and balancing the chemicals in the water will go quickly.
The delay in the repairs was caused when a previous contractor hired for the job was asked to leave the site. Code Enforcement Director Eddie Bentley said a state inspector discovered the contractor did not have a state contractor’s license, which is required for pool work costing more than $5,000. The inspector would not allow the contractor to continue work, Bentley said.
After that, Ledin said it took about two weeks to find another contractor – Birmingham-based Elite Pool Services.
“They’re working as fast as they can to get it done, and they’re doing a great job, too,” Ledin said.
Built in 1987, the city pool was last resurfaced in the 1990s. The pool was in dire need of the repairs being done, Ledin said, to resolve safety concerns and save money on operating expenses.
“Since I took over the pool three years ago, we’ve done about $80,000 in repairs,” Ledin said. “There is a lot of money involved in operating a pool, but we try to keep the city pool safe, sanitized and clear, and all of those things have been fantastic the past few years. We have a great track record with no serious injuries or drowning incidents.”
Once the pool opens, Ledin said the Parks and Recreation Department expects around 100-150 people a day to come by for a dip. Between swim team, swim lessons, water aerobics, adult lap swims, parties and other special events at the pool, it’s not hard to stay busy.
“The pool is the biggest gathering place in the city, I would say, during the summer,” Ledin said. “It’s family-oriented and a fun atmosphere, and I think that’s why people enjoy it. I can’t thank the Parks and Recreation Board and the City of Sylacauga enough for all the support we’ve gotten for this project, and I thank the people of Sylacauga for their patience. I know a lot of people are eager to get in this pool, and we’re getting closer every day.”
When the pool reopens, it will be open for public swim from 1 to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and 12 to 4:50 p.m. on Saturday through Labor Day. The fee is $3 per person per day. For questions about pool events or activities, contact the Parks and Recreation Department at 256-249-8561.