For the first time in three years, Lexington’s six public pools will be open with no capacity restrictions starting Memorial Day weekend, city officials said Thursday.
“This is a big deal. We are so excited,” Mayor Linda Gorton said during a press conference Thursday at Southland Aquatic Center off of Clays Mill Road. “After two very challenging seasons which saw our pools closed or operating with limited hours, we are very excited to make a splash in the neighborhoods all over the city with improved facilities.”
Thanks largely to an influx of $121 million in American Rescue Plan Act money, the city is dedicating more than $1 million dollars toward upgrades of various pool amenities, Diving boards have already been replaced at Southland, Woodland, Shillito and Douglass pools, Gorton said.
Other improvements include a new slide at Douglass, new aquatic features at Woodland and Southland pools and repairs to various features at Tates Creek, said Monica Conrad, the director of Lexington Parks and Recreation.
Many pools will also need equipment repairs that help keep the pools open. Those repairs include a new filtration system at Douglass, new filter tanks at Southland and Woodland, new pumps at Castlewood and Southland and pool decking repairs at Shillito.
The more than $1 million in upgrades is part of more than $24 million in federal coronavirus relief money that will go toward park improvements, Conrad said.
Woodland Pool’s popular pirate ship was removed due to structural issues in April 2021. Conrad said the city took input last summer from residents on what type of water feature should replace the popular pirate ship. That new water feature, which has not yet been selected, will likely be constructed in 2023, she said.
“People wanted an interactive water feature,” Conrad said.
The city didn’t reopen its six public pools during the summer of 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. In 2021, the pools were open but with reduced capacity. People had to sign up or make a reservation.
This year the pools will be open at full capacity.
Castlewood, Southland, Tates Creek and Woodland will open on Saturday, May 28.
The Shillito and Douglass pools will open June 4.
The city is also offering swim lessons and swim teams at pools this summer.
Lexington-Fayette Urban County Councilwoman Amanda Bledsoe grew up near the Southland pool. She participated in swim team there.
“As a little girl I grew up at this pool, learning to swim and participating on the swim team. I was not very good. But that’s okay. That’s what city pools are for — getting people involved and providing access to all kids and all ages,” Bledsoe said during Thursday’s press conference. “I am excited that future generations of children will be able to do the same things that I did growing up -- to learn how to swim and to have fun.”