By Alyssa Schnugg
The city of Oxford’s 40-year old pool continues to serve hordes of local families with the number of users increasing this year, according to Oxford Park Commission Director Seth Gaines.
Before the pool opening in May, the city spent about $30,000 to make some Band-Aid repairs to keep the pool operating. However, it’s becoming increasingly obvious to city leaders that plans to replace the pool – or building a new one somewhere else inside the city – will soon need to be seriously considered.
Mayor Robyn Tannehill told Gaines Thursday during a budget hearing that she and the Board of Aldermen will be looking at options over the coming months.
“I think you’ll see us commit to a new pool this year,” she said.
Gaines said the repairs this year are holding up well.
“The pool is operating as expected,” he said. “Maybe better than expected.”
He said memberships have increased, partly due to Groupon discounts.
“We had about 20 to 25 families get memberships through Groupon,” he said.
Tannehill said the board will be considering how to spend the funds from its Baptist trust fund – about $850,000 – toward the end of the budgeting process later this month and that she’s recommending putting $250,000 toward building a new pool.
Gaines said he estimates a new pool to cost about $2.5 to $3 million for an outdoor pool. An indoor pool would cost more than $12 million; however, Gaines said a cheaper option to have a pool that could be used year-round would be to purchase a removable cover for the pool.
Gaines put $20,000 in his fiscal year 2020 budget for pool maintenance and repair.
“If something major comes up during the year, I’ll come back to the board,” he said.
The total budget for the pool is projected to be $148,402. The OPC total budget for 2020 is $1,582,949.
OPC has about $500,000 in its athletics account, according to Gaines.
“We have five projects that we plan to put some of that money toward,” he said.
The five projects include $150,000 over five years for putting turf in Quad C at FNC Park; $50,000 over five years for an Accessible Play equipment at Bailey Branch Park; $50,000 over two years for a spray park; $45,000 over three years toward resurfacing tennis courts; and $20,000 over five years toward general park and facility maintenance and upgrades.
Also presenting budgets Thursday were Brad Freeman for FNC Park with a $1,622,174 budget. Freeman also asked the board to consider spending $415,000 toward putting turf in Quad C; however, Tannehill said she didn’t believe that was feasible for this coming fiscal year but invited Freeman to work with department heads to come up with a possible future funding plan.
Oxford Fire Chief Joey Garner presented his $8,500,441 budget that included the costs for a new fire station at Oxford Commons which include nine firefighters, a new fire truck, uniforms and other equipment.
The fiscal year runs from Oct. 1 through Sept. 30. By state law, the entire city budget must be approved by Sept. 15. Aldermen will continue to meet with department heads next week to review budgets, make suggested changes and discuss “wish-list” items from each department.