The H. Spurgeon Cherry Pool will close Jan. 8 to allow for a $1.4 million renovation of the facility that will last until the summer.
Peter McNiece, project manager for the City of Gainesville, said the facility needs changes to revamp the 1968 building. The pool is located at 1001 NW 31 Drive off NW 34th Street next to Littlewood Elementary School.
“It hasn’t undergone a major renovation in all of those 50 some years, and so it is very old, very rundown,” McNiece said in an interview. “It looks tired; it’s in desperate need of a complete renovation.”
The facility will look completely new to visitors, McNiece said, especially the entrance. Instead of confronting a half-wall on entering, the entrance will open straight to the pool with glass doors and the welcome desk set off to the side.
Visitors won’t need to detour through the locker rooms to arrive at the pool, and the changing areas and showers will have increased privacy.
By increasing the utility—more privacy, quick hot water—McNiece hopes the pool will better fit community needs. Instead of changing before getting to the pool or waiting to shower and change at home, he hopes the new facilities will take care of those needs.
“We really had to correct some of those systemic problems,” McNiece said. “I think it’s going to be very well received by the swimming community.”
Along with obvious changes, the facility will also undergo functional upgrades that visitors might not notice, like a new roof, electrical improvements and modified office space.
The parking lot will get a face lift as well.
The Gainesville City Commission approved the project and contractor in early December with funds taken from the Public Places, Wild Spaces tax.
McNiece said the start of construction will be slightly delayed because the other pool in town— the Dwight H. Hunter Pool—needs to be drained for maintenance. The city wanted at least one pool open for the community, so the renovations will begin once the other location is back online.
As for a finish date, Memorial Day was the initial hope, but McNiece said that may be unrealistic now. Supply chain delays, especially for roofing materials, could lengthen construction time. He said the city and its contractor are working to identify the items that might take awhile to arrive and mitigate the impact.
One example of these difficulties is the Clearance R. Kelly Community Center, slated for completion in February. The concrete was poured last week and the new playground is being installed now. The building as a whole only has four to six weeks left of work, but the building might not have furniture to fill out the center, according to McNiece.
Blackwater Construction Services will do the work at the Cherry Pool. The same company is finishing work on the Kelly Center, and McNiece said the timing worked out well.
Besides the pool facility renovations, the Albert “Ray” Massey Park, where the pool is located, will get additional upgrades to its playground, including a new restroom along with one at Unity Park.
McNiece said the team working on the playground has focused on making it accessible for all kids with brand new equipment and design. The playground will have a space theme to mirror the solar walk on the other side of NW 8th Avenue.
As a lifelong Gainesville resident, McNiece said it’s refreshing to see the changes coming to the park.
“We’re super excited to be doing this for the community,” he said.