‘Record-breaking’ attendance at London pool

By Andrea Chaffin

June 2, 2014

A record-breaking number of people flocked to the London Municipal Pool for its opening day on Saturday, a showing pool officials are hoping will become the new normal at the facility that nearly closed last year.

Nearly 550 individuals passed through the gates, said Linda Granger, pool manager.

The day’s total revenue was $3,500, “which is huge for us,” Granger said. Concession stands took in $650, compared to the $6,000 the stands made last year for the entire season.

Granger attributed the high turnout to the warm weather and the pool’s “Dollar Day” promotion. Each guest paid $1 for the daily admission.

“I thought we’d have a good day if the weather was nice, but this far exceeded our expectations,” Granger said. “We were hoping for 300 people to come.”

Granger hopes this is the beginning of a new era for the pool. She described last year as the “building year.”

“We had to show people the facilities were maintained, and the pools and bathrooms were clean,” she said. “People have started to see the community’s investment. It’s literally a stone rolling downhill.”

A widespread effort spearheaded by the London Community Organization in 2013 raised more than $30,000 in five weeks to open the city’s municipal pool for the swim season. Last year, the pool was a casualty of London’s tight 2013 budget. Without private funds, it was likely destined for permanent closure.

This year, it boasts amenities galore, said Granger, who volunteered in the fundraising effort last year.

A shade structure is currently being built at the pool. Granger applied for a $8,000 competitive grant from the American Academy of Dermatology and — much to her surprise — was awarded the funds. Usually, the grant is given to facilities in year-round sunny states such as Florida, Texas and Arizona, she said.

AllState Exteriors stepped in to make the project a priority, despite an already busy workload, Granger said. Dr. Angela Shen sponsored the grant.

“I was envisioning some little thing, but this thing is amazing,” Granger said.

Students in the summer lunch program will enjoy their afternoon meals under the structure. The program, part of the Madison County Vineyard Church’s charitable mission, provides free lunches to children at the pool on weekdays until Aug. 8.

Lunch will be served to all children under the age 19, regardless of income, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Pool admission is not required, but is not included.

For adults, a special Senior Swim Time will be held from 10 a.m. to noon each day. Admission is $1. Children are not permitted in the pool until 12:30 p.m.

Seniors and individuals with physical disabilities will find it easier to enter the pool with the addition of the new stairs and handicapped lift station, Granger said. Madison County Hospital sponsored the new equipment.

The hospital will also hold occupational and physical therapy classes in the pool for its patients.

Granger hopes guests who came on Saturday noticed the new amenities, and will give the pool a second chance.

“I want them to say, ‘This is a really great place to be,’ versus, ‘This place is being neglected,’” Granger said. “It’s important the community really take advantage of this resource during summer because it’s a fantastic resource.”

Andrea Chaffin can be reached at (740) 852-1616, ext. 19 or via Twitter @AndeeWrites.