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March 4, 2014

UPDATE: County pool teardown begins

MILLEDGEVILLE — Baldwin County has decided to officially cover the closed community pool facility at Walter B. Williams Park.

Public Works staff initiated a teardown Tuesday morning. Starting at 7 a.m., workers began pumping thousands of stale water gallons and using a front-end loader to break up existing structures and concrete.

County Commissioner Chairman Sammy Hall, District 3, said the board felt it was necessary to demolish the pool that was “basically an eyesore” and a “liability.”

County Manager Ralph McMullen confirmed the work order and said the pool facility would be closed “pretty soon.” The county is imploding the upper pool walls before filling the hole.

The pool house and other outside structures will be hauled off for proper landfill disposal.

“That’s not supposed to be buried. The only thing that’s supposed to be buried is what’s already in the ground,” McMullen said Tuesday.

This could be complete by Friday weather permitting.

“There will be no protruding concrete. Any left will be well below ground level. There will be several feet of dirt on top of it,” the county manager said.

McMullen confirmed last week that the Baldwin County Commissioners didn’t want to invest any money into the pool. He said the cost to rehab that pool was sizable and would require borrowed funds for action.

Hall mentioned at a Feb. 18 county meeting that the recreation department’s $763,000 budget is less than the cost of a functional pool.

Renovations to the more than 40-year-old facility cost around $1 million. A brand new facility was double that price.

Other discussed recreation department facility issues needing attention could benefit from the recreation burial. Last week, county officials mentioned future action would alleviate some of those problems by freeing up recreation related funds.

The pool affects the recent Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST).

Five-year SPLOST collections of $2 million dollars earmarked for recreation haven’t flowed with predictions.

Recreation Director Bill McNair said last week the SPLOST money is coming in close to $150,000 for the year for the potential pool work and general recreation.

McMullen said the pool wasn’t on the initial SPLOST list because the facility wasn’t closed when that referendum passed.

McNair had the community pool on the amended project priority list.

The board decided that other recreation facility maintenance and potential upgrade projects became higher priorities than the pool.

“It will free up some funds for these other projects,” McMullen said.

A recreation funding stalemate was essentially erased because money that was collecting for possible pool renovations can go toward other areas.

“The $2 million will still go to the reaction department. We will have to decide what we are going to do about the pool [area],” Hall said. “No decision has been made about a new pool.”

The former pool area will be grassed over and repurposed for another recreation use. Hall said the county’s options were open and any future pool construction may not be in the same spot.

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