Residents driving by Freedom Park in Greenwood in a few weeks will begin to see fences and stakes marking where an aquatic center will be built.
On June 2, give or take a few days, construction will start on a project that has been under discussion in Greenwood for more than a decade and became a topic of complaints from residents once the city closed and demolished its 55-year-old pool.
The city tore down the old pool in 2012 because of disintegrating bathhouses and concerns that pool revenue was $30,000 to $54,000 less than its operating costs. Residents are about to begin their third summer without a public pool in the city, and officials, including council member and pool committee chairman Thom Hord, have said the new aquatic center has taken too long to build.
City council members and residents served on a pool committee that studied whether aquatic centers could make enough money to pay for their own operations and recommended to the council a design with amenities, such as slides and a lazy river. The aquatic center was expected to break even or even earn money.
But a pool engineering firm recently estimated that the aquatic center now planned for Greenwood wouldn’t sell enough in passes and memberships to pay for about $200,000 per year in operating costs. The city then eliminated a slide and a play area and shortened the lazy river to cut costs.
Redevelopment commission member Bryan Harris asked at a meeting Tuesday if the trimmed designs would bring operation costs closer to breaking even.
“We’re hoping,” Mayor Mark Myers said.
Now, contractors are scheduled to dig up topsoil, spread gravel to support future asphalt parking lots and dig holes for a lazy river and pool within the next few months.
A recent suggestion to consider moving the pool park location northeast toward the Interstate 65 exit at County Line Road has been dropped. A planned hotel and sports complex made the area appealing for the aquatic center, Hord had said. The city didn’t pay for any research about locating a pool at the site.
The goal now is to have concrete poured and most construction finished before winter, said project manager Bart York of construction management company Skillman Corp. of Indianapolis. The project should take about 11 months to build and is slated to open in May 2015.
The city has agreed to contracts with companies to extend water, electricity and sewer services to the property, build pools and two buildings, and install water slides.The contracts total $7.2 million for construction.
The city redevelopment commission, which is paying for the $10 million aquatic center, approved the $7.2 million in construction contracts Tuesday with a unanimous vote.
“This is really a good day for the city,” Hord said. “We’re hoping to get wet next summer.”