Pool's out for summer

KC deal keeps swimmers afloat during city work

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“At this point we will not open this year.”

Blunt news about the city pool, but Kilgore City Manager Josh Selleck softened the blow Tuesday night: even though the facility’s closed for repairs and won’t welcome visitors this season, the city’s arrangements with Kilgore College are working out well.

Everyone still has a place to swim this summer, he said. Importantly, there are lots of opportunities for swimming lessons, one of the key reasons the city continues to support a public pool.

“No child will be turned down on swim lessons,” Selleck emphasized. “We have a benefactor who sponsors scholarships for as many children as need scholarships. That’s in memory of Amy Clements.”

Extensive, ongoing repairs on Kilgore City Pool pushed its opening back and back and back again. Summer officially begins next week and July 4 comes quickly: as one week turned into another and potential opening dates fell later and later in the calendar, city officials turned to Kilgore College, working out an agreement for both swimming lessons and open swim in the campus fitness center.

It’s a win-win, Selleck said this week, even more valuable since the first round of bids for pool work weren’t successful – council members rejected one bid Tuesday, green-lighting City Hall employees’ next phase.

“During the bid process, we became aware that most of the bidders were not interested in this based on the timeline,” he said, the vast majority unable to finish work by the city’s July 4 opener.

With only a single bid in-hand, city employees immediately set about renegotiating their agreement with Kilgore College to allow for more users at the fitness center pool.

“We share a portion of the gate proceeds,” Selleck noted.

It’s more expensive than the $2 per customer rate at the city pool, but at $5 per person for entry to the KC facility, users get to enjoy the pool and the fitness center as well – children under 15 must be accompanied by an adult to use the rest of the facility.

Announcing the good news about the agreement immediately, Kilgore Special Services Administrative Assistant Josie Atchley said there’s been a health response to KC’s welcome.

“It’s more than they’ve had in the past several years for open swim,” she said, “so they’re very happy that we’ve made this joint venture.

At the same time, “We had over 60 in our first class (of swimming lessons), and it’s still filing up every day for the next six weeks that we’ll be doing swim lessons.”

According to Atchley, a monthly family membership to the fitness center is $47; an individual pays $37.

“The parents can go and workout while their kids are swimming,” she said. “If they go two or three times, they’ve already made that money back. That’s a pretty good deal. You get more bang for your buck because you get access to the whole fitness center.

Swimming lessons are $50 per session and continue throughout the summer; new classes start on Mondays. Participants can register through either City Hall or the fitness center. Open swim at KC now extends into August.

With council members rejecting the lone bid the city received – for a liner that won’t work for the city pool – city employees are ready for the next round of bids, Selleck repeated.

Though it’s taking longer than originally planned, “The work we’ve done over there is going to turn out a facility that’s just as spectacular as the day it was first opened. I promise it will be worth the wait. We’re really proud of what we’re accomplishing,” he said. “We’re well within budget and hopefully exceeding everybody’s expectations.”

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