By Debbie Gregory
Mayor Richard Driver sat down with the Macon County Chronicle last Wednesday afternoon and explained why the Lafayette Swimming Pool won’t be opening this summer.
The city pool first opened on June 26, 1960, and after 59 years, Mayor Driver says the pool is showing it’s age.
The question of why the swimming pool won’t be opening this season, involves the safety of the swimmers in a pool that was built almost 6 decades ago.
“The Lafayette Swimming Pool is definitely showing it’s age, and I would like to explain to everyone what happened,” said Mayor Driver. “We knew previously that the pool was leaking and we were losing water, but we decided to keep it open anyway. Then it started getting worse and we decided last year that we needed to do something. That’s what the whole idea was - to fix the leak. However, when we drained the water out of it, we found out there was some issues with the bottom of the pool, along with other problems. You could tap parts of it and we could tell it was hollow underneath. We didn’t know how much of the concrete support had washed away after almost 60 years. With that much weight when water was in it, we were afraid that it could give away, and if that happened somebody could get hurt and or even drown. That was a major issue!”
Mayor Driver said once the city found out there were all these other problems, they had two options - either build a new pool or repair the old one. “First we looked at building a new pool at the same location and it was going to run around $800,000,” noted Mayor Driver. “So then we got a price on repairing the pool and it was between $300,000 and $350,000. After discussing the situation, the City Council decided to repair the pool, rather than build a new one.”
“When we started drawing the specifications for the repairs and renovation, we knew the plans and specifications had to be approved by the state since this is a public pool,” explained the Mayor. “Since the plans had to be submitted and approved this took additional time. Then, we bid it out, and nobody was interested. We went back and revamped the specs and rebid the project and this time we got a low bidder. The City Council met and approved the contract.”
“We were hoping that once the bid was awarded that the work could be done pretty quick, but the back log for the materials is an issue and it will be this fall before the liner can be put in,” detailed Mayor Driver. “We are also going to put in a water slide, a new diving board, and new chairs for the lifeguards, along with a new circulating system. The swimming pool is going to be completely renovated.”
“What’s important to remember, is there is a danger risk if we open the pool, and we don’t want to jeopardize the safety of the swimmers,” said Mayor Driver. “We are trying to do what’s best for the city, and with all these problems, we decided that not opening the pool this year was the safest thing to do.”
In conclusion Mayor Driver said, “Yes, we are going to lose one season of swimming, but that’s better than a swimmer losing their life.”
If you have any questions about the pool, or any other issues in the city, please free to call City Mayor Richard Driver at 615-666-2194.