COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) – Columbus residents looking to get outdoors this weekend will be hard-pressed to find a public pool in their area. The majority of the city’s community pools have sat empty this summer. City officials have plans to renovate three of four public pools over the next few years but until then, options are limited.
Roughly three summers have come and gone as the pools at Psalmond Road, Rigdon Park, and Shirley Winston have all sat locked up, drained and not operating.
The city pools in Columbus were built nearly 20 years ago. Over the course of the last 3 years the city has had to close the majority of them. Of the 4 city pools, the only one currently open is the Double Churches Pool.
“It’s that we’ve had issues with the actual facility itself. We have done the maintenance, we have kept them up. But we had many vendors and contractors come in and look at those for us and it was determined that it would be better served for us to replace them with newer and updated amenities for our community.”Holli Browder – Columbus Parks and Recreation Director
The city originally talked about completely getting rid of the pools and replacing them with splash pads, after the success of the Rush South Splash Pad down at Woodruff Riverfront Park. Now they hope to implement splash pads throughout the city as they renovate these pools.
“The current plan is for them to go back at least comparable to what we have now, if not greater in capacity than what we currently have.”Holli Browder – Columbus Parks and Recreation Director
Once bids from contractors come in the city will be able to determine what that cost and process looks like. A timeline is hard to pinpoint as they face the common delays.
“It’s really hard to say at this point with the way supplies and getting materials and of course, weather, whether it’s hard to say that we can do that in a year. But we’re hopeful. But if not, we definitely know that we won’t be open in 24 months.”Holli Browder – Columbus Parks and Recreation Director
Not only have the pools been drained but it also drains the quality of life for Columbus residents and their families. Something the city hopes to restore.
“It gives kids an opportunity to get out and be healthy in the summer. Families to spend time together. And it really just overall adds to a community spark when you have a variety of amenities and opportunities for your citizens to use. It just enhances your quality of life for those who live in your community.”Holli Browder – Columbus Parks and Recreation Director
Funding for this project will come from the 2021 SPLOST, which is projected to generate $400 million for the city of Columbus. $48 million of that has been allocated to Parks and Recreation for the 3 pools and facilities.
During these changes, the Parks and Recreation Department has also struggled with staffing issues.
As of February 2022, the city reported 176 vacancies in the department.