A big decision is looming on Cravens Pool. With the pool in need of “significant repairs” that would cost nearly $400,000 just to be able to reopen, other options to consider include a complete rebuild, constructing a spray park, or closing the facility entirely. A meeting is scheduled for later this month to garner public feedback.
Earlier this month, City of Owensboro Parks Director Amanda Rogers told City Commissioners there were issues that must be addressed one way or another, and that it was important to look into the future of the aquatics plan for the city.
Right now the pool sits on land owned by Owensboro Public Schools, though the pool itself is owned and operated by the city. The pool needs a new surge tank, modulating valve and positive shut off valve, among other things.
During a Parks & Rec Advisory Board meeting Tuesday, Rogers said she thought there were four options to explore.
One option is to make the repairs. She said they knew Cravens had issues, but they were told by the health department that they had four code violations — two of which had to be remedied in order to reopen.
The estimated cost to repair everything that was contributing to code violations is $383,000.
Rogers compared that option to the repairs at Combest, which cost “a little less than half a million” dollars and were expected to give the pool 10 more seasons according to conversations with contractors and maintenance workers.
“So it’s basically like a $48,000 investment a year to get 10 more public swim seasons at that location,” she said. “So, looking at a new build, we ought to be able to get 40 years out of a new build. So what’s the price comparison, what’s that cost a year? What would I feel like makes the most sense to recommend?”
A new build was the second option Rogers presented, though she didn’t yet have any specific numbers on how much that would cost or ideas on what the facility would look like. She previously said that to build a new facility it would cost “no less than $5 million” if they were to try to build a pool the size of Combest along with other amenities.
A third option would be to turn the facility into a spray park. Rogers said she plans to get numbers from the Daviess County Parks Department regarding their recent installation of the spray park at Horse Fork, as well as two other parks directors in the state that have recently overseen the construction of a spray park.
The fourth option would be to simply close the pool altogether. While she doesn’t know what the solution is, Rogers said she is not in favor of a total closure at this point.
Rogers will be gathering more information on each option, such as the cost, expected life of a renovated vs. new facility, and public usage of a pool vs. spray park.
She said if they were to build a new pool and facility, it wouldn’t be open next season. She said there’s a good chance they would be open if they simply make repairs, while there’s a small chance they could have a spray park operational next year if that was the option that was selected.
Rogers said in doing research, the department looked at the 14 largest cities in the state of Kentucky by population to see what type of public pools they had. She noted that most of the places that put in pools around the same time as Owensboro have already replaced them with more modern facilities.
“For us to get 40 years is a testament to our public works department and the guys who have worked for us through the years,” she said. “They found a way to keep on going, but we’re just at that point where 40 years later we just can’t.”
Rogers said the relationship with OPS is another important factor to consider. She said she has requested a meeting with the board of education, saying there was some debate on who owned the pool.
“We as a city feel like it belongs to the Board of Education,” she said. “I’m not sure how they feel today. … (Iplan to sit down and) figure out exactly who is the property owner because that will affect the costs.”
OPS Public Information Officer Jared Revlett said Tuesday that “We are open to having a conversation with the city again, however, they know where we stand on the topic and our position has not changed.”
A public meeting is expected to take place Sept. 22. Rogers said she hopes for an in-person meeting but it could be virtual. She hopes to have more solid numbers and information to present to the public by then.
“It’s something that we’ve got to address,” she said. “We’ve got to address where we’re going from here. We can’t let that pool sit there and do nothing with it. It’s time to do something.”