Residents in the neighborhoods surrounding Cravens Pool had their first chance to voice their opinions about the future of the 46-year-old pool Wednesday night.
Unanimously, the residents who spoke at the meeting at Dugan Best Rec Center said they wanted a pool to remain at the Cravens Avenue location, either with a repaired and remodeled pool, or a new one.
Amanda Rogers, city parks director, held the forum as the first step in forming a plan for the pool site. The pool was closed in 2020 due to the pandemic and didn’t reopen in 2021, because of health code violations.
If all the repairs were done to the pool, the cost would be about $383,000, Rogers said.
Rogers said after the meeting she hopes to have a plan ready to present to city officials by the beginning of next year, or sooner.
A survey is being posted on the city’s website and social media sites to gather more public comment.
Rogers said the options included repairing the pool, repairing it and adding extra features, building a spray park, building a new amenity, such as a playground, or tearing down the pool entirely.
Rogers said she will be receiving an estimate on the cost of building a new pool at the property in the near future.
People who spoke at the meeting said the city should either repair the pool and add new features, or build a new pool.
“It’s an asset to our community,” said Tiffany Riley, adding that the city should “definitely spend the money” to keep the pool open.
Others supported keeping the pool, which they said is the right size and depth for smaller children. Others said if the pool were to close, kids from the neighborhood would not be able to make it across town to Combest Pool near Chautauqua Park.
Dracin Williams said keeping a pool at the site would benefit the neighborhood’s children.
“There’s no reason to close it if we really do care about kids,” Williams said.
Later, Williams said, “For Black kids especially, there’s not a whole lot giving them hope right now.”
None of the speakers voiced support for a spray park, but several said they would like to see the pool repaired and new features added.
When Rogers said repairing the pool would only extend its lifespan another 8-10 years, Bobby McCormick said the city should consider building a new pool at the site.
“I think that pool is a great asset for this community,”McCormick said after the meeting.
“Sometimes, you have to spend money for the good of the neighborhood,” McCormick said, adding that the old pool is “out of date.”
“When you build something new, people are going to come,” McCormick said.
City school board member Michael Johnson said, “it’s very vital to keep that pool in the community.”
Johnson said the city should consider using some of its American Rescue Plan Act dollars for a Cravens pool project. The city is receiving $13.1 million in ARPA funds, although the federal rules on how the money can be spent are not yet final.
Some ARPA dollars can be spent for parks projects in certain areas.
Rogers said the Cravens pool area appears to be in an area where ARPA funds could be used on parks.
Rogers said the surveys will be available on the city’s website, Facebook and Instagram sites until Oct. 8.
Public comment on what residents want for the pool will be used to make a recommendation to city officials, Rogers said.
After the meeting, Mario Higgs said he believes the community should keep Cravens Pool.
“I would like to see them keep it and add to it,” Higgs said. “I went there when I was a kid. Everybody here did. ...These kids only have one pool.”
James Mayse, 270-691-7303, firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter: @JamesMayse