Springbrook Pool could have a splash pad, a climbing wall and an extra water slide in the future, according to a draft master plan unveiled at an open house Tuesday.
The pool, which opened in Alcoa in 1931, lost approximately 40,000 gallons of water per day this summer, which prompted the Alcoa Board of Commissioners to hire a consultant to evaluate the existing structure and draft a master plan.
The suggested solution is to “build a pool within a pool,” said Alisha Eley with Kimley-Horn of Nashville. “This is one of the worst sites, if not the worst site, in the city to put the pool, but it makes sense they put it here because it was spring-fed,” Eley said Tuesday. “It is the low point of the city, so building a pool within a pool will alleviate the pressure from the groundwater coming up. “If you don’t do something, that pressure could pop the pool right out.” Building a pool within a pool also saves on demolition costs, she added. “And that will take care of the leaking and be a lot cheaper than building a new pool,” Eley said.
Kimley-Horn designed the draft master plan taking into account the input received from 24 citizens who attended a public meeting Oct. 17. That feedback showed the citizens’ top priorities as shade structures, a splash pad and a water slide, all of which have been incorporated into the draft master plan.
“This plan serves a lot of different age groups and functions, including the Maryville-Alcoa Flying Dolphins swim team, while preserving the historic features such as the wall, the columns and the slide,” Eley said. “You still have the diving boards, but you also have a splash pad. The whole family can do something.”
Pool divided by three
The draft master plan shows the new pool within the footprint of the existing pool, but divided into three distinct areas.
To the right of the drawing, the side with the existing water slide, the draft plan shows a “zero entry,” which is a ramp that gradually leads into the water from 0 feet instead of steps or a ladder, and water play structures.
“Usually we would have zero entry across the whole (side), but we wanted to keep the historic slide, and we needed 3 1/2 feet (of water) there,” Eley noted.
This part of the draft master plan is what Eley called “a typical pool,” with the depth ranging from 0 feet to 6 feet in the area partitioned off from the existing water slide and from 3 feet to 6 feet in the area with the existing water slide.
“We will need to extend the length of the steps,” she said, of bringing the existing water slide into compliance with current codes.
The middle part of the pool was designed with the Flying Dolphins in mind: eight 25-yard swim lanes separated from the other two parts of the pool by 10-foot wide jetties. The depth ranges from 6 feet to 9 feet.
“With this, they could practice or have a meet, and people can still utilize the other areas of the pool,” Eley said.
The left part of the drawing, the area where the diving boards are located, ranges in depth from 10 feet to 12 feet. While the existing diving boards could be reused, the draft master plan rotates them 90 degrees and adds an additional water slide and a climbing wall to this deeper part of the pool.
Shade structures are located on both ends of the pool.
Splash pad included
To the top right of the drawing, beside the existing buildings, is a splash pad, which would take the place of the existing baby pool. The splash pad would be located near the restrooms — helpful for potty training, Eley said — and would be connected to the pool by a new bridge over the creek.
“The splash pad will replace the current baby pool, and I feel that is a great addition,” said Joe Huff, executive director of Maryville-Alcoa-Blount County Parks and Recreation Commission. “Splash pads don’t require lifeguards, so we could keep it open even if the pool is closed (for the season).”
Huff added that, while the Springbrook Pool’s baby pool is grandfathered, it does not meet current codes because it is not on its own filtration system.
“I really like the plan in that it addresses most of our aquatic needs: an area for competitive swimming which is also available for lap swimming and general swimming purposes each day, diving well with additional slide, added zero-entry area with water playground structure to go along with the existing slide, and a splash pad for the smaller children,” Huff said.
“The design has something for every age group and reflects a more modern aquatic design, and we will solve our major issue of losing large amounts of water each day,” he added. “Our No. 1 concern is repairing the water leak, but if we are going to spend money to fix that, we’ve got to think about this.”
Three people who came to the first public meeting on Oct. 17 wrote that one of their priorities was keeping a shallow area near the deep end, Eley said. Nathan Irwin of Alcoa was one of those.
“I think this plan is good,” he said Tuesday. “My only concern, as a dad, is that you’re 2/3 of the pool away if your older kid wants to go to the diving board and the younger one needs to be in the shallows. You don’t want to be negligent and let your kid go off by themselves all day.”
Irwin, who attended Tuesday’s meeting with his 8-year-old son Isaac and 5-year-old daughter Alara, said he would like to see the climbing wall included in the area of the pool with the diving boards replaced by a shallow end.
“This is one of the things we really love about the pool: that it’s not just the shallow end or the deep end,” he told The Daily Times. “We go to the pool three to five days a week. We can walk to it.”
Joe Preston, who serves on the board of the Flying Dolphins, said the draft master plan meets all the needs of the 150-member swim team, as well as the needs of the Smoky Mountain Invitational, which brings some 1,400 competitive swimmers to Springbrook Pool each summer.
“This addresses the issues in mid-summer with high temperatures,” he said, referencing both the shade structures and the splash pad “for cooling off.” “It also allows us to dive from both ends, which we need for competitive swimming.”
Preston said he would send the draft master plan to the rest of the board for their input.
Next steps pondered
City officials at the meeting, including Mayor Don Mull and Commissioner Vaughn Belcher, wondered Tuesday what happens next.
Andrew Sonner, Alcoa’s director of Engineering and Public Works, told The Daily Times there is no money budgeted for the pool project at this time, nor is there a timeline to perform any of these fixes.
“I think this is a good concept, but we need to look at the costs of addressing the immediate water loss,” he said. “What does that cost versus reconstructing something? This study will give us a basis for looking at this and making an educated decision of what to do.”
Kimley-Horn will be giving the city an audit report of the existing structure as well as a final version of the master plan. That report will include short-, mid- and long-term solutions for how to fix the pool, Eley said, and a cost analysis of those suggestions.
“This is the Cadillac version, with everything you can do in one image,” she said, noting the splash pad, for example, could be constructed at a later time. “But you cannot fix the pool long term without building a pool within a pool.”
No action was taken by city officials at Tuesday’s open house.