Greenwood has pushed back the opening of the aquatic center at Freedom Park in Greenwood a year to Memorial Day weekend of 2015.
The new pool had been scheduled to open next summer. Construction was scheduled to start this month and run through the winter and spring.
The decision is sure to be a disappointment for area residents who had counted on cooling off next summer in a new pool.
City officials decided to push back the opening date by a year because of the unpredictability of the weather, city spokeswoman Molly Laut said. A snowy winter or wet summer could have delayed construction by months, and city officials had no way of knowing what the weather in those months would be like, she said.
A bad winter could have delayed the opening date to July, and the pool would not be able to open on time for much of the summer, Mayor Mark Myers said.
Construction will begin next spring so that the facility can be finished by the fall, Myers said. The pool then could be open for the entire summer of 2015.
The delay should not affect the price of construction on the $10 million water park. Funding for the project will come from property tax dollars that have been paid into the city’s two tax-increment financing districts. The city could save some money by waiting until spring to build because the cement will not have to have a seal of winterizing protection, project manager John Shell said.
A new pool for Greenwood has been discussed for more than 10 years. The aquatic center will replace the old Greenwood pool, which closed in May 2012 due to safety concerns. A new city park and splash pad opened at that site last month.
The new center will feature a lazy river, zero-depth entry, water slides, and a 25-meter lap pool. The designs for the pool are about half complete at this stage and should be done this fall, Myers said. Delaying construction will give engineers more time to plan, he said.
The YMCA of Greater Indianapolis plans to build a branch next to the aquatic center but does not have a timeline on when construction will start, Baxter YMCA executive director Danielle Tippett said. The YMCA has worked with the city on features in the new aquatic center and plans to sign an agreement this fall with the city to manage the pool, she said.
There are fixed costs in operating a swimming pool, whether it’s open for a week, a month or a season.
Better to delay the opening until 2015 rather than open for only a fraction of the 2014 season. That would allow a staff to be hired and trained before the opening, enhancing safety.
In addition, with schools starting around Aug. 1, the traditional summer vacation season is shorter. The pool can still be open and operating in August, but weekday attendance is not likely to be significant. Thus income might not justify the expense of operating for just a few weeks.
The city made the right call to announce the delay now rather than having to scramble to staff the pool next year or to open for an inordinately short period.
The announcement will be a disappointment to many, but it will ensure the pool is ready for a full season the following year.