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Published: Tuesday, 6/18/2013

Work leaves Walbridge pool dry

Redo sets back opening to late this month

BY LORENZO LIGATO
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Twann Garrett of Indianapolis lowers a sump pump into the village of Walbridge’s swimming pool to remove stormwater. Officials said the renovations to the pool cost the village more than $95,000. Twann Garrett of Indianapolis lowers a sump pump into the village of Walbridge’s swimming pool to remove stormwater. Officials said the renovations to the pool cost the village more than $95,000.
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With the official start of summer only a few days away, the Walbridge swimming pool is still dry. But village officials said residents can expect to take a dip in the completely refurbished pool by the end of the month.

The village’s municipal pool at 400 Parkview Dr. was slated to open for the season on May 27, but the date was delayed after wet spring weather slowed down the renovation work on the pool, Walbridge Police Chief Kenneth Frost said.

Three weeks after that date, only three-quarters of the swimming pool’s interior surface has been covered with a membrane of turquoise PVC liner, an addition that will give the pool's concrete walls a new look and protect them from flaking off.

“The liner needs to be glued and heat-sealed. If it rains, the crew can’t work,” Chief Frost said, assuring that “the guys are working every available daylight hour” to complete the liner installation in the main pool and in the nearby kiddie pool in the next two weeks.

In addition to the impermeable PVC liner, the entry to the pool has been revamped with wider steps and steel handlebars to accommodate older guests. Children and adults will be able to plunge down a new vortex slide before cooling off in the water.

“The pool is a nice addition for the residents of our small community. It provides children and adults with an outlet for entertainment during the summer,” Walbridge Mayor Ed Kolanko said. “We’re at the mercy of the weather, but we’re all hopeful that the pool will be open by the end of June.”

The makeover began this March, after years of discussions to secure funds for the renovation of the 50-year-old pool. Built in 1963 as the centerpiece of the Aqua Terrace Swim Club, the pool’s concrete walls were cracking and its gutter system was outdated. In 2007, the Walbridge Village Council approved a 3 to 5-year plan to renovate the pool by introducing a zero-depth entry, so young children, older adults, and guests with disabilities could skip the stairs and ladders and wade slowly into the pool.

While budget constraints and space limitations scuttled the plans for the zero-entry pool, Chief Frost said, the village purchased a $5,800 AX wheelchair lift that will meet ADA requirements and make the pool accessible to people with physical disabilities.

The renovations, which will include new fencing, cost the village more than $95,000, Walbridge fiscal officer Patricia Crawford said. The costs of the project, she said, were partially covered by a $6,700 grant from Wood County Park District and a $5,000 donation from Walbridge Fest, a local nonprofit that puts on annual community events.

Mayor Kolanko said the expenses for the makeover will outweigh the high-maintenance costs to preserve the old pool.

Since the village assumed ownership of the private swim club in 1994, hundreds of visitors frequent the pool every year.

Residents and visitors can buy a season membership for $30 per individual. Daily admission is $3.

Memberships had been $160 for resident families and $85 for singles, but council members reduced the fee to attract more members, Mr. Kolanko said.

The pool is set to remain open until Aug. 18, but Walbridge council members are considering prolonging the swimming season to make up for the delay.



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