Doesn't mean pool will be reopening

BICKNELL — City officials will soon to control over an abandoned Swimland.

Mayor Thomas Estabrook said members of both the Board of Works and city council this week approved a joint agreement for Bicknell to officially assume control of the swimming pool and property at 400 Pool Drive.

City crews, Estabrook said, already maintain the property — and have for a long time. But officially securing the deed to the pool will ensure “the title isn't lost to time and history.”

“Now this does not mean we are going to (reopen the pool) anytime soon,” Estabrook said. “But we were essentially maintaining it anyway, making sure it stayed locked, mowing the grass, things like that. And it's surrounded by city property anyway.

“Perhaps now it could eventually be used for something else.”

Estabrook said there is still some title work to be done, but he expects to officially have the deed to the property soon.

The pool has been closed to local families now for two seasons.

It was shut down by county health officials last year after being cited for 24 infractions that included the lack of a certified pool operator and the use chlorine tablets to make up for a faulty automatic chlorinator.

The pool was also docked for not having certain signage and for not keeping an accurate record of ongoing pool water tests, among other things.

Swimland was built, in large part, as a grassroots effort by community leaders back in 1963 and has always been run by a separate, independent board of directors. That board, however, hasn't been active in some time.

There is at least one local member left, Estabrook has indicated, who is willing to sign over the deed to the city.

A year ago, leaders said it was likely cost prohibitive to make good on all the infractions cited in the report. And earlier this season — as other municipal pools prepared to open their gates for the summer — Estabrook announced that Swimland would, in fact, remain closed indefinitely.

In fact, city officials indicated it may likely never open again.

They aren't, however, prepared to leave residents without a way to cool off in the hot summer months.

An effort is being led, in part, by city councilman Rod Mullins, to construct a splash pad at South Side Park.

And city council members this week took yet another step toward getting that done.

Council members voted, Estabrook said, to take about $3,200 in unspent money from when the city charged residents to register golf carts for operation on city streets, a process they've since abandoned.

“Mullins said that will pay for the concrete (foundation),” Estabrook said. “We had some lively conversations about making this happen, and we do hope to make it happen.

“There is support for it.”

Much like the effort to build Swimland nearly 60 years ago, they hope to look to the community for help.

Officials in Vincennes last year included a splash pad in a more than $350,000 effort to spruce up Four Lakes Park. The baseball-themed pad itself cost upwards of $100,000, but Estabrook is hoping to do it for far less in Bicknell.

Instead, Mullins and the city council have said they will look to local businesses for help, both with monetary and in-kind donations.

Parks superintendent Jack Lyn, too, has said that common splash pad apparatus can often be made relatively easily.

If they are able to pull it off, Estabrook has said he is hopeful a splash pad will both be easier to maintain and attract new, younger families to settle in Bicknell.

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