Expert says pool shouldn’t have opened

Published 12:32 am Thursday, June 21, 2007

FERRIDAY — The continuing saga of the Ferriday pool got a little more complicated Wednesday morning.

Recreation District No. 1 Chairman Robert Lee III had an outside pool expert come in and inspect the facility at a cost of $1,500.

“We’re going to test everything but microbiological things today,” said Bruce Carney, president of Carney and Associates of New York City, a firm that designs, oversees construction, evaluates and even writes textbooks for swimming pools.

Email newsletter signup

“We’ll look at the structure, the equipment — the overall facility,” he said.

After everything was said and done, Carney expressed doubts about the pool.

“This pool never should have been opened,” he said.

Mayor Gene Allen was present at the inspection, and he and Lee chatted amicably while Carney looked the facility over.

“This is about health and safety,” Lee said. “This is what the recreation district stands on.

“This is not political and this is not accolades.”

Lee pointed out several areas of the facility that needed repairs.

There were several places in the wooden walls — the building is primarily brick — where decay was evident, and there was standing water in the women’s dressing room.

Several dressing room stalls were also leaning, and one had been temporarily repaired with rope.

At least one stall — in the men’s changing room — that had been broken Tuesday was repaired Wednesday morning.

The chemical storage closet also needs to be much more organized, Lee said.

“Those things don’t need to be just thrown in there,” he said.

The repairs to the pool the Town of Ferriday made earlier this year cost $30,000, Allen said.

Labor was donated by the sheriff’s office, he said.

Lee said the cost of repairs the recreation board wants to make would be $300,000.

“It would be cheaper to bulldoze and start over with a new pool,” he said. “Building a new pool was the direction the board was looking at.”

Allen said he would support the board in building a new pool.

“Let us finish our summer program, and then go right ahead,” he said. “I would absolutely allow the recreation board to build a new facility.”

The 136-by-51-foot pool was poured in two sections when it was built in the late 1950s, and those two sections are pulling apart, Carney said.

“Short of a nuclear explosion, this pool is rock solid, but there is a gap in the center caused by the expansion of the concrete,” he said.

When that water is leaked from the pool, there is no way to recapture it, Carney said.

Carney is concerned about the immediate, the intermediate and the long term, he said.

Immediately, there are safety problems such as unsecured grates in which fingers could get caught, he said.

Once those issues are addressed, Carney said the functionality of the pool is in question.

“The water from the deep end isn’t circulating all the way to the other end,” he said. “That makes it a little harder to be constantly disinfecting the pool.”

The wading pool is not connected to circulation at all, Carney said.

“The baby pool is basically a bath tub,” he said.

Pool employees test water from the shallow end of the pool three times a day.

In the long term, there are major repairs needed, Carney said.

Allen said he knows the facility needs some repair.

“Everybody asks about the antiquated pool,” he said. “If your house was built in the 1950s, I can guarantee it would need some repairs, but you wouldn’t tear it down.

“The question to ask is, ‘is the water safe?’”