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The fact that the agenda for Monday evening’s board of mayor and aldermen meeting did not call for any action on the pool at the D.W. Wilson Community did not deter a vocal group of residents from having their say.
More than half a dozen Tullahoma Swim Club members and supporters approached the podium Monday to urge the board to include facilities suitable for competitive swimming events as part of the revamp of the pool.
John Riley, the club’s former head coach, said the club is an asset to the city. Competitive meets draw crowds, he said, crowds who patronize local hotels, restaurants and businesses.
“Swimming is as important at football, baseball or any other sport,” Riley said. “If we’re going to redo the pool, let’s make sure we have lanes for competitive swimming.”
Riley’s sentiments were echoed by the other speakers, including Steve Farmer, who told the board “it’s not a debate to us.”
Farmer said Tullahoma swimmers have a long history of representing their club and the city well at competitions, including the Long Course 2013 Southeastern Championships in Nashville last weekend.
“We showed them Tullahoma could swim with the big fish,” Farmer said, adding one of the five Tullahoma Swim Club members competing at the event placed fourth in the 50-meter breaststroke and fifth in the 100-meter breaststroke.
“Do you, as the board of mayor and aldermen really want the Tullahoma Swim Club to continue to represent our city or is all the talk about wanting more for Tullahoma just hype,” Farmer asked.
City officials told Farmer and the other swim club supporters that their concerns and wish list for the swim park have not been dismissed or disregarded. Rather, they said, it’s simply too soon for the board to have an official position on the matter.
“I understand your point and I don’t disagree,” said Alderman Sandy Lindeman, “but we haven’t seen anything yet… Right now we’re waiting for something to look at.”
At the board’s previous meeting earlier this month, the engineering firm of Hart Freeland Roberts was awarded a contract totaling approximately $172,000 to design a new swim park. According to Mayor Lane Curlee, the firm has been tasked with providing the board with “pencil drawings” of three different concepts: upgrading the existing indoor pool to accommodate competitive events while installing an outdoor splash park; building a new splash park and including a couple of lap lanes; or foregoing a splash park entirely in favor of replacing the outdoor pool with a new competition-friendly in-ground pool.
Curlee said the contract awarded to the engineering firm earlier this month covers the entire scope of the project, whatever that may end up being, so the city is doing what it can to keep the initial costs as low as possible. The mayor said he expects to see the results of the engineers’ work within a month or so. At that point, the board will review its option and decide which course to take in regard to the estimated $2 million project.
Andrea Agardy can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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