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Gainesville has no plans, money to repurpose the Green Street pool
Eno Slaughter, left, assistant parks maintenance supervisor with Gainesville Parks and Recreation, checks a pump while Parks Division Manager Jeff Morrison walks to look at a drain Friday at the Green Street pool. The pool, which the city cleans and maintains on a regular schedule, was closed in the summer of 2009. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

Kasia Stanfill looks back fondly on the summers she spent at Gainesville’s Green Street pool. She remembers standing on the water’s edge, waiting to jump into the cool water for the first time.

“I was so little, I was scared,” Stanfill said. “It was pretty fun, though.”

The pool, which closed in the summer of 2009, still stands empty, and city officials say there are no plans yet to do anything with the site.

Kathleen Pendleton, who lives in the neighborhood surrounding the pool, said the area is not looking its best.

“It looks abandoned,” Pendleton said. “It looks like an abandoned pool. Even when the pool was functional and it would be shut down for the winter, it didn’t look the way it looks.”

The city cleans the inside of the pool and mows the grass in the surrounding area on a regular schedule, said Melvin Cooper, Gainesville’s director of parks and recreation.

However, he can’t say for certain what will happen to the pool in the future.

“We had public meetings back in 2007 on the closing of Green Street pool,” Cooper said.

 “We hope to have, at some point in time when the economy turns around, public input meetings on what the community would like to see on that site.”

He said the 2007 meetings yielded some ideas about the pool’s future, such as turning it into a “micro-mini Centennial Park” complete with green space and a small splash zone.

But he was reluctant to say more, as the future of the city’s budget is uncertain and the public’s wants could have changed since the original meetings.

“We don’t want to do any public interest meetings until we know we’ve got funding,” Cooper said.

The city closed the pool for budgetary reasons — the site needed repairs that would have cost between $500,000 and $750,000.
“It had to have a lot of repairs done on it to keep it up, and at the time, we were embarking on the new aquatic center — the Frances Meadows center,” Cooper said.

The Frances Meadows Community and Aquatic Center, which opened in 2008, cost $16 million to build. Cooper estimates yearly operational costs to fall right at $950,000.

However, much of that cost is offset by the revenue coming into the center when visitors pay the fees associated with the site.
Cooper said 64 percent of the center’s expenses were covered through fees and charges in fiscal year 2009, and the site saw 200,000 visitors that year.

“We did better than the market average as far as cost recovery,” Cooper said.

But Stanfill isn’t too happy with the center. She’d rather see the Green Street pool of her childhood back in business.

“It was disappointing that it closed, to me,” she said. “Now, you have to go to the Frances Meadows Center. Anytime that you want to go there, it’s so packed that you can’t enjoy it and have fun because everybody goes there.”

And Stanfill’s thoughts on the Green Street pool’s future?

“When they get enough money to fix it, I think they should.”