published Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

New pool, spray park approved for Southeast Cleveland

Rita Hannah, director of the Southeast Cleveland Community Center in Clevleand, Tenn., shows the unsafe pool that will be replaced in time for summer.
Rita Hannah, director of the Southeast Cleveland Community Center in Clevleand, Tenn., shows the unsafe pool that will be replaced in time for summer.
Photo by Randall Higgins.

CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- Kids will be able to swim at the Southeast Cleveland Community Center next summer after all.

Late last year city staff said the 40-year-old pool and its filtration system were too unsafe to open the facility again. But the Cleveland City Council on Monday approved a pool construction contract to save summer swimming in an area with few recreation alternatives.

The cost is $676,500, with $109,000 of that coming from the federal Community Development Block Grant program. The rest comes from an increase in sales tax revenue of more than 10 percent over what was budgeted, city officials said.

At first, some council members had questions.

"That's a lot of money to spend at one time," Councilman Richard Banks said.

But during a break in the meeting, Banks talked with city staff. They told him that about 100 children use the pool every summer day, with some parents dropping their kids off in the mornings. Otherwise the kids might have no supervision, they said.

The new pool, and its spray park, tubular slide and climbing wall, could give even more kids a place to play, said Rita Hannah, community center director.

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"It's a necessary expense," Banks told his colleagues later.

The council voted unanimously to approve a contract with Cleveland-based Tri-Con Construction for a new pool and the accompanying spray park.

"I can tell you we got about $7.4 million [in sales tax revenue] the previous year," city budget director Mike Keith told Councilman Bill Estes. "We budgeted $7.6 million for this year."

But instead of a 1 percent increase, sales tax revenue is tending toward a 10 percent increase, he said.

"Actually we thought we hit the bottom last year," Keith said.

In December 2011 council members heard a staff estimate that repairing the old filtration system alone could cost more than $260,000. For that amount of money, Councilman Dale Hughes said, the city might do better just building a new pool. So the city began advertising for bids.

Five companies submitted both bids for the pool and alternative bids for the additional features.

Contact Randall Higgins at rhiggins@timesfreepress.com or 423-314-1029.

about Randall Higgins...

Randall Higgins covers news in Cleveland, Tenn., for the Times Free Press. He started work with the Chattanooga Times in 1977 and joined the staff of the Chattanooga Times Free Press when the Free Press and Times merged in 1999. Randall has covered Southeast Tennessee, Northwest Georgia and Alabama. He now covers Cleveland and Bradley County and the neighboring region. Randall is a Cleveland native. He has bachelor’s degree from Tennessee Technological University. His awards ...

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