Gilmer County, GA – Silence pierced the room Wednesday night as Commissioner Charlie Paris asked, while late in the meeting, if anyone would like speak for repairing or retiring the community pool. Indeed, every single person who went to the podium on Wednesday, May 20,5 spoke in favor of building a new pool rather than continue repairing or even retiring the current Community Pool.
Larry Lykins, Gilmer Parks and Recreation Swim Team Coach, who spoke for the benefits of a new indoor year round pool to support both Parks & Rec teams, as well as the High School team. He also noted the Community Pool is the only guarded aquatic facility to ensure safety of children as they swim. He stressed the importance of lifeguards as children have fun in the pool.
While Mr. Lykins was in favor of having diving wells and shallow areas for children, he, and several others, stressed the need for regulation lanes in order for both Park & Rec and High School swim meets. These would, ideally, require 8 lanes that are each 8 ft wide and 25 yards long.
Mr. Lykins further impressed upon the Board of Commissioners the need for a new pool to be year round and heated for physical therapy of elders in the community, therapy for younger people with injuries, athletes, or simply activity to fight obesity in citizens.
These feelings were constantly reiterated by others as they spoke, including former student Colby Reece who recalled a story of driving an hour to and from the closest facility in order to practice swimming for two hours. He noted how different his life might have been as he wanted to continue swimming in college. He stated perhaps a year round indoor facility could have let him practice more and maybe gotten a scholarship to college with swimming.
Local Amy Woodring even brought forth a previous petition she had worked on showing over 80 families had had wanted a new facility, which she states translates to over 248 people willing to pay standard pool fees to have access to such a facility..
Our own poll at Fetch Your News showed similar reactions from those who did vote. Our results as of that same night included 102 votes in favor of building a new pool, 21 votes in favor of repairing the current pool, and 14 votes in favor of simply retiring the pool. That’s over 74% of responses in favor of a new pool.
In order to get this pool built, however, we are still at the very early stages. The Commissioners all agree, at the very earliest, this project is likely to not start until 2016 due to a need for financial support and budgeting to build it. When asked individually, all Commissioners were open to partnerships with other organizations including the Board of Education. However, Chairman Paris stated he was “totally opposed” to handing over full control to any other party.
The Commissioners also individually confirmed they did not wish to close down the current pool while construction is undertaken on a new pool. If this is indeed the will of the people to build a new pool, Chairman Paris and Commissioner Crouch would be willing to leave the current pool open as they move forward into construction phases if the leak does not worsen and the pool remains structurally sound. Commissioner Miller also stated he would prefer the pool remain open, but would like to see what the cost of it over this summer will be before any decision is made.