Jackson Pool Needs Millions To Reopen

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People are splashing into summer with the opening of Jackson public pools, but no one is diving into the water at Ella Sharp Park.

"I just think the Ella Sharp Park pool would benefit the kids more by being for swim classes and open swim on this end of town," said Clarence Walker, as he waited for his grandchildren to finish a swim class.

The city use to run its summer swim program out of the Ella Sharp pool but crumbling equipment and expensive repairs forced the park to close.
That meant lessons moved to the local middle school with open swim time only being offered at Nixon Park across town.

"Basically what we'd need to do is just tear everything down and start from scratch," said Jackson Mayor Jason Smith.

The cost of doing that isn't cheap. The Mayor says rebuilding will take $2.5 million. With the city already facing a strained budget, he doesn't know what will happen with the pool.

"Pools in general, from a budgetary standpoint, aren't sustainable they don't make money they don't break-even," Smith added.

Aside from the millions of dollars it will take to fix the pool, the Parks and Recreation Director Kelli Hoover says it will cost the city $100,000 a year in maintenance fees. So for now the gates around the pool are staying locked.

But the Parks and Recreation Department says smaller lessons at the middle school have some perks.

"You get more one on one attention with the instructors and the kids will only benefit from that," said Andrew Sargeant, superintendent of Parks and Recreation Services.

"For right now we're just making the best with what we have," added Olivia Varney, the swim program director.

That leaves people like Walker hoping the pool will eventually reopen.

"It's a little bit more convenient for kids on this end of town instead of going way on the other end of town," he said.

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