Temperatures reached well into the ‘90s this week, signifying that summertime has truly arrived; however the option of taking a relaxing dip in the Recreation Department pool to cool off is still up in the air for this year. County Commission Chairman Rusty Blackston announced at the June 9 County Commission meeting that there are several issues with the pool’s filters and other equipment that would have to be fixed before the pool could open to the public.
“We received word in the last day or so that when they rebuilt the pool out here at the recreation facilities, it seems a lot of the old equipment was reused and this equipment has failed us now,” said Blackston. “I’ve talked with Mr. Wheeless and it seems the pool will not be open this year.”
At the meeting County Manager Jim Wheeless stated the parts needed for the filtration system are no longer being made and it would be a miracle if any could be located for purchase in the state. The estimated cost of a new filtration system to fix the problems is somewhere in the neighborhood of $60,000-$70,000.
However, as of Wednesday, June 17, Upson County Recreation Director Mindy Daniel stated her crew is doing everything they can to get the pool fixed so it can be enjoyed by the community this summer.
“My boys are working extremely hard to get everything done,” said Daniel. “Our goal is to get everything operational and have the water quality at what it is supposed to be, then hopefully we can get it inspected sometime next week.”
If they are able to fix the issues to be in compliance with regulations and pass inspection from the Upson County Health Department, then according to Daniel the pool will open and stay open as long as everything stays in working order. She also noted they have many applications from citizens who want to serve as lifeguards, who will be ready to work as soon as they are given the go ahead to open.
In a phone interview Wednesday, Wheeless agreed that they are trying to fix everything they can to have the pool open and last throughout the summer season. The recreation department is hoping to have the pool inspected sometime early next week and if they are given the all clear, then the pool should be open by the end of the month. He noted that the major repairs to the filtration system that need to be done have to be put on hold because the money simply is not available in the budget. At last week’s meeting, Chairman Blackston told the rest of the board this may be a project they want to consider placing on the upcoming SPLOST.
The Recreation Department pool was rebuilt in 2009 by Augusta Aquatics, as a “walk in” pool with a six foot deep-end and the ability to hold a user load of 183 non-swimmers and 50 swimmers. The funding for the pool renovations came from the 2005 SPLOST, where $500,000 was allocated for the project.
If the pool does open this summer, patrons will have to pay a higher entry fee than they have in years past. Earlier this year the commissioners voted to increase the rate from $1 per person to $3 per person to help cover the rising cost of chemicals needed to keep the water quality in the pool at appropriate levels. The Thomaston Times will bring you an update on whether or not the pool will open as soon as the information becomes available.
Ashley Biles can be reached by calling 706-647-5414 or on Twitter @AshleyBiles1