Oak Ridge city leaders approve pool proposal

Oak Ridge city leaders say you can swim all summer.
Published: Jun. 23, 2021 at 7:11 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 12, 2021 at 7:42 PM EDT
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OAK RIDGE, Tenn. (WVLT) - City leaders say the Oak Ridge Outdoor Municipal Pool will stay open all summer, despite recent confusion about a need to restock its supplies of chlorine. In a recent Oak Ridge City Council vote, one nay stopped the unanimous approval needed to let the city purchase more buckets of chlorine to keep the pool clean. Yet, city leaders now say there are adequate supplies to use until at least mid-July, when council members can vote on a competitive bid supplier for the chlorine. The city says the pool was never in any real danger of closing this season. Yet, the city council maneuver, involving the nay vote from Mayor Pro Tem Rick Chinn, has renewed concerns and nostalgia for preserving the pool throughout the community.

Avid swimmer Kristi Rom Hamlin, who uses the outdoor pool often, created flyers for a grassroots public information campaign to encourage others to show their support for the pool. Her flyers list contact information for city leaders. “I’m asking people to contact Rick Chinn or Mayor Gooch, and let them know you love this pool, you care about this pool.”

Mother of five Erin Lamb said her family decided to move to Oak Ridge in part because of amenities like the pool. When she takes her five children swimming, she can get convenient access for Isaiah, who must arrive in a wheelchair for a day of fun.

“The pool is actually one of the only places where once he’s in the water he can keep up with his siblings and meet other kids,”said Lamb.

Lamb said she purchased the family pass so she could bring the kids practically every day.

“Several families that can’t afford a vacation, this is the vacation that they have,” said City Council member and school art teacher Jim Dodson. He and Derrick Hammond were among the members who all voted ‘yes’ already to restocking the chlorine, understanding the city has funds budgeted for this. Hammond saying there is a lot of pride in the large, spring-fed pool. “It’s a part of Oak Ridge’s identity. That’s a part of why people drive into Oak Ridge.”

Chinn said his blocking of the chlorine vote was an effort to draw attention to a bigger issue that city needs to address as time goes on. He said there are big maintenance issues. “The pool is losing thousands of gallons of water right now. And we’re having to replenish the pool with not only natural spring water but municipal water as well.” Chinn said he understands the nostalgia and love for the pool. “I share that passion. It was a great place. And what we need to do is make it a better place.”

Lamb is among several residents hopeful the city will continue to find ways to manage the pool so everyone can use it. “Let’s keep it open. It’s definitely important for all of us.”

Monday afternoon Oak Ridge city leaders approved the proposal, restocking the chlorine.

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