The debate on where to locate a new Greenwood city pool isn’t over yet.
One year after deciding to build the new aquatic center on the southwest side of the city in Freedom Park, officials brought up a new idea to locate the facility on the opposite side of Greenwood, near where a hotel and sports complex are planned.
Now, a pool engineering firm is going to estimate the cost to build the new pool, water slides and lazy river near the Interstate 65 exit at County Line Road. Based on that estimate, the city council would decide whether to suggest reconsidering the Freedom Park location, city council member Thom Hord said.
GoodSports village, a hotel and sports complex proposed for a property near Graham and County Line roads, is expected to attract thousands of youth league sports players and their families each year. Building the aquatic center nearby could draw a bigger crowd to the pools and water slides than the planned Freedom Park location, Hord said.
He asked Counsilman-Hunsaker, an engineering firm that previously told officials the pool would lose money each year, to calculate whether moving the aquatic center closer to the GoodSports facility would lower its expected financial losses. Counsilman-Hunsaker should respond with rough estimates within a few days, Mayor Mark Myers said.
The firm has estimated Greenwood’s aquatic center won’t be able to pay for about $200,000 of its annual expenses, which include water, chemicals to treat the water and salaries for lifeguards and other employees.
The mayor and other city council members raised concerns about changing the location of the pool, saying the price tag would be too high and building a pool park near GoodSports would take away land from potential business development.
Buying land for the project could cost the city more than $1 million an acre, city council member Mike Campbell said. The city already owns the location at Freedom Park.
Switching the pool location from Freedom Park isn’t feasible because of the designs and work, such as soil testing and surveying, the city already has done, Myers said. The city spent nearly $500,000 on the designs for the Freedom Park location after the redevelopment commission settled on that location last year.
The city also discussed building the new aquatic center at Craig Park and near the airport after the former city pool near downtown closed.
“I think we’re too far along to change the location, and I think the location’s been proven time and time again,” Myers said.
Last week, the city began considering bids from construction companies for building the aquatic center at Freedom Park, which look like they’ve come in lower than the project engineers estimated, community development services director Mark Richards said. The city expects to choose contractors by mid-May, he said.
Hord, who was chairman of the 2012 pool committee and had pushed for the Freedom Park location, said the proposed GoodSports facility could make property off I-65 a better fit, he said.
Building the pool park near GoodSports, which is planned to include a 124-room hotel and a six-basketball court fieldhouse, would give the families at the sports complex easy access, he said. The GoodSports facility is not planned to include a pool.
“I very much thought that was a game changer for me,” Hord said.
Land prices are high on the east side of the interstate, where GoodSports is building, but the city could look at the west side of I-65, council member Linda Gibson said. The closer proximity to the highway is important for making the aquatic center accessible, which the Freedom Park site doesn’t offer, she said.
“I continue to be concerned about Freedom Park,” she said.
Changing locations, though, would again delay the project, which has been talked about for years and should have been built in time to open this summer, Hord said. He added he doesn’t want to see it delayed again.
Freedom Park was the No. 1 location listed in surveys of Greenwood residents, and buying new land would be expensive and take away property that could be developed for business uses, Myers said. Plus, catering to visitors at the GoodSports village isn’t a primary goal,
“This amenity is for the citizens of Greenwood first,” he said.