Projected costs for Opp pool up $1M

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 24, 2014

Those in Opp – including some city council members – are wondering how the projected cost of the city’s veteran’s pool project has grown by $1 million.

The council adopted a three-year, $5.2-million capital improvement plan Tuesday that featured some 25 projects, including roadway repairs, capital projects and the purchase of new equipment. Also included in that plan was a new pool that will replace the former veteran’s pool.

In August 2013, Mayor John Bartholomew estimated the project cost at $250,000. That same month, the city received a $100,000 contribution from the Estep Foundation – putting the fundraising at half of the funds needed to complete the project. The remaining funds for the project are to be raised through community donations, city officials said.

However, in Tuesday’s list, the project cost is budgeted at $1.25 million. Now, people want to know why.

“That’s what I asked the other night at the meeting,” said Councilman T.D. Morgan. “I don’t feel that there is any reason that a pool should cost that much. The answer I got was that it was a state-of-the art facility, and that’s it. No one would say what that extra $1 million was for.

“I’ve had 15 or more phone calls about that meeting, questioning about the cost of that pool – not to mention the comments on Facebook,” he said.

Councilman Mike Booth would not discuss the project, while Councilman Arlin Davis said he was not involved in “that particular project.” Instead, both directed all questions to City Planner Jason Bryan.

Bryan said that the $1.25 million price tag is an “anticipated cost” of the demolition, design and construction of a new park, pool and clubhouse.

“That’s the whole project,” Bryan said of the amount. “The $250,000 first announced was just for the pool. Of course, all of those are anticipated costs, and we always try to get a more reasonable one.”

Earlier this year, city crews demolished the former pool, which is located on E. Park Avenue and was constructed in 1942. The property had been unused for nearly a decade.

The state-of-the-art facility will also feature a splash area for the children; a waterfall monument with etchings of the nation’s conflicts; and a pavilion, which will be equipped with a small kitchenette, available for party rental, as well as restroom facilities.

Site work has already begun on the project, and completion was slated for next summer.