Tullahoma, Tenn., Ferrell facility eyed as 'swim park'

Tullahoma, Tenn., Ferrell facility eyed as 'swim park'

July 31st, 2013 by Ben Benton in Local Regional News

Officials in Tullahoma, Tenn., are weighing ideas for a $2 million conversion of the town's almost 40-year-old community pool into a splash-park facility or combination splash park/competition pool. The pool is showing its Photo: The Tullahoma News

When the Joel Ferrell Memorial Pool in Tullahoma, Tenn., was built, Jimmy Carter was president and American swimmer Mark Spitz was still basking in the glow of his seven Olympic gold medals from the Munich games.

Now, city officials want to make the almost 40-year-old outdoor swimming pool into a shining recreation facility with a $2 million redesign as a “swim park” that could attract visitors from all over the region, Mayor Lane Curlee said.

He said the park would showcase features such as a lazy river and activities for the smallest children, adventurous teens and adults.

“We’ve had a long history of an outdoor pool in Tullahoma,” Curlee said. The old pool at the D.W. Wilson Community Center has outlived its anticipated 30-year life by a decade, he said.

“Times are changing and families want the newest and the best and the biggest, so we’ve appropriated $2 million for the purpose of providing what I call a ‘splash pool,’” he said.

The facility would be built on the site of the existing pool and contain attractions to draw local people and visitors from “Shelbyville, Lynchburg, Winchester and Estill Springs, all around,” he said.

Over the past week, Curlee visited splash parks in Kingsport and Jonesboro, Tenn. The Kingsport park gets about 1,000 visitors a day and, in Jonesboro, a town smaller than Tullahoma, the town park got about 400 visitors a day, he said.

“It was really exciting to see the kids having fun with all the activities, and families were there, and there were picnics going on. It was a great community atmosphere there, and we look for the same kind of thing going on in Tullahoma,” he said.

Part of the $2 million appropriation probably will be used to update the city’s indoor pool to meet standards for competition, Curlee said. Those updates are still being studied.

Parks and Recreation director Kurt Glick said ideas primarily fit into three scenarios:

• A single large, top-of-the-line splash/play pool,

• An outdoor splash pool with some money saved for indoor pool upgrades to allow competition, and

• A large outdoor splash pool/competition pool hybrid.

Glick and Curlee liked the second scenario of a splash/competition pool, which they said probably would generate the most money.

A new splash pool conversion in Murfreesboro helped seasonal revenues grow from $39,000 in the old pool’s last season in 2008 to $169,000 with the town’s new, modern pool, Glick said.

Officials will seek input on design, especially from local young people, he said.

Designers will bring photos of different elements that could go into the facility to an upcoming public meeting “and get their feedback,” Curlee said.

<em>Contact staff writer Ben Benton at bbenton@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6569.</em>