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Green Street Pool will be closed in 2009

POSTED: April 2, 2009 12:03 a.m.
SARA GUEVARA/The Times

The water babies swim class was a popular program at the Green Street Pool. Because of budget cuts, the pool near City Park will not open this year.

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Lovers of Gainesville’s Green Street Pool may have had their last day in the sun.

The city’s only outdoor municipal pool will not open this summer, Gainesville’s Director of Parks and Recreation confirmed Wednesday.

The pool’s future has been unknown since talk of a mega-aquatics center — the $16 million Frances Meadows Aquatic and Community Center — surfaced, but the final drain on the 78-year-old Gainesville relic proved to be the economy.

Green Street Pool cost the city approximately $125,000 a year to operate, and it was cut from the budget in October when all city departments were directed to cut 5 to 10 percent of their expenses, said Parks and Recreation Director Melvin Cooper.

The board would have considered bringing the pool back later in the year if revenues improved, but they never did, Cooper said.

"It won’t be open this season, because of the budget cuts that we’ve had to make," Cooper said.

The pool was among a number of services that the department abandoned to keep afloat. A day camp at New Holland Elementary School, various instructional classes and the open gymnasium at the Butler Center also got the ax.

The cuts have helped keep the department from raising user fees.

"We’re keeping our fees as they are because we feel like more people will need our services because of the economic turndown now and we want to make it as affordable as possible for them to do that," Cooper said.

Likely, when the economy comes back, the pool won’t, at least not in its current incarnation, Cooper said. To stay operational, the pool needed extensive and expensive renovations.

"It’s my recommendation that we look at other alternative uses for that site," Cooper said.

Ideas for the site include turning it into a small "splash" park, adding a garden area, renovating restrooms and building a pavilion to use for Gainesville High School’s tailgate parties and community rentals.

The ideas are only concepts, and the site’s future is still in the air, Cooper said. Cooper does promise, however, that the site will continue to be an attractive neighborhood feature and will be maintained until the funds come available for its new look.

"The one thing that we did promise the neighborhood is that the facility wouldn’t just be torn down and paved over for parking," Cooper said.

Green Street was the only outdoor municipal pool in Gainesville. A smaller facility, Fair Street Pool, closed in 2006.

The pool was built by President Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration and first opened on July 4, 1931.



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