Tuesday at the city’s outdoor aquatic center the newly constructed pool sat empty, but for some murky rainwater settled in the deep end. At the other end, where the bottom of the pool slants gently into the water in the manner of a beach, a few water fountains disguised as a cattail, an alligator snout and a towering mushroom stood out from the concrete surface — without water squirting from them.
Surrounding the pool area were walk-in-ready pavilions, bath houses, a concession kitchen and utility buildings on the perimeter of a large concrete pad that encircles the pool.
The project is all but ready to open to the public, but pool-goers may have to wait until next year. Officials say a few critical finishing touches are keeping the pool from opening: pavement for the parking lot and the installation of a slide, sewer pumps and water line. The interior also has to be lined with a final coat of plaster.
“I’d rather wait and make sure we have everything right,” said Mayor Rick Freeman.
Officials said the project is costing the city $1.8 million of the $4.4 million in bond debt issued in 2010. The money was initially borrowed to pay for the pool and a recreation center, officials said.
Just a few weeks ago the mayor said he believed the pool would be ready for the Fourth of July, but that changed late last month when contractors and officials learned the slide wouldn’t be ready until August.
Freeman and city department heads said that news was enough to delay the opening, but they added that it’s not the only setback.
The city is also waiting for sewer pumps to be delivered so municipal workers can install them – a process that will take at least two weeks, said Jesse McKnight, the water, gas and sewer superintendent. The city expects to receive those devices next week, according to project supervisor Carl Hinton. The pumps were late arriving because they were bid as part of another city project, a well installation that is being delayed indefinitely due to technical and financial difficulties.
Officials said they are also waiting to pave the parking lot, another critical step that must be completed for people to use the facility. They said they hope the Calhoun County Highway Department will assist with the parking lot project, but added that city leaders will ask contractors to do the work if they have to.
Additionally the pool lacks a water source, but city officials say they do expect to be able to install the water line needed to supply the pool within two weeks and without complication.
If each of those steps are taken when expected, the project will finish by Labor Day, but the city will have to decide if it makes sense to open the pool at the end of the summer, officials said.
“It’d be great to see water in the pool but you’ve got to decide if it’s worth opening up the pool the last week,” Hinton said.
Staff writer Laura Gaddy: 256-235-3544. On Twitter @LJohnson_Star.