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Swimming in history
Thousands of Gainesville residents have enjoyed the water at Green Street Pool
Alley and Joe Terrell stand in front of the Green Street Pool in Gainesville. - photo by Tom Reed
Even though there has been debate over the fate of Gainesville's iconic Green Street Pool, it will be open at least through this sweltering summer.

The pool opens for the season on Saturday and the splishing and splashing can resume for one more year.

The historic pool has been open since July 4, 1931, as City Park Swimming Pool. Kids paid 10 cents to swim then and since then the public swimming pool has provided thousands with swimming lessons and family fun. Joe and wife Alley Terrell were among the many who have enjoyed the pool over the decades.

"The pool opened in the morning, I think 9 a.m., and there weren't very many people in the pool at that time," said Joe Terrell, a lifeguard at the pool in the 1940s. "There were two lifeguards, I was one and a friend of mine named Clay Lloyd. During that off time in the morning we started swimming classes. So people would bring their children to learn how to swim and we would charge 50 cents a head."

Alley Terrell told stories of locals sneaking into the pool for skinny dipping at night and lifeguards teasing girls by running them into the boys' bathroom. These memories are just some of the reasons why she hopes the pool remains in Gainesville.

"I just think if they do away with the pool they will be eliminating part of the community's heritage," said Alley Terrell, who attended last year's city meetings to discuss the pool's fate. "Granted, the YMCA, the Frances Meadows Center and all of this is very nice. But I just think that children need the freedom of being able to be outdoors."

When the pool was built it was smaller and the deep end faced the bath house; when it was renovated in 1979 to 1981 it was expanded to its current size.

But since then there has not been a full-scale renovation of the pool. The costs of updating the pool is one of the biggest reasons the pool could close.

"There has not been an official estimate provided on what it would take to renovate the pool," said Melvin Cooper through e-mail while recovering from an injury. "However, such items as the pool deck, the pool shell, mechanical systems are all in bad shape. Costs could top $500,000 or more.

"We have also had problems replacing mechanical parts that are no longer available. Even had to have an impellor engineered."

The old systems used for pumps and other mechanical parts are no longer produced and there also has been a change in the chlorination system. In 1992 the pool changed from chlorine gas to calcium hypochlorite tablets in 2004.

A decision will be made on the pool after the summer attendance numbers are calculated.

"We would like to have both Green Street Pool and Frances Meadows Aquatic and Community Center operating at the same time so that we can see what effect if any there is to participation numbers at Green Street Pool," Cooper said.
Green Street Pool had more than 28,000 in attendance in 2007, according to Cooper.

The Frances Meadows Aquatics Center is a $16 million complex of pools and meeting rooms in east Gainesville and is set to open in July.

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