It’s been nearly five years since Niles’ Waddell Park Pool closed. Since then, residents have been trying to get it reopened but it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen anytime soon.
They’ve applied for and received grants, and tried to get the community involved. Now they’re angry because Niles Parks and Recreation Director Robert Burke said it’s not likely.
Waddell Park Pool in Niles sits vacant, filled with rainwater, thousands of leaves and even a dead animal.
But the problem isn’t just the pool — it’s the building next to it.
“This building was built in 1932. It really needs a lot of upgrades and therefore, there’s a lot of cost involved,” Burke said.
Inside the pool building, a water pipe is leaking into the basement.
Instead of using that building, Burke wanted to try using the Wellness Center as the pool building. He said that wouldn’t work because of a number of code violations.
That brought them back to the original pool building, but the cost to fix it is too high.
“You do all that, it comes out to $689,000,” Burke said. “I think it would almost be cheaper to put a brand new building than to repair this building.”
Neighbors in the community are not convinced of that cost. Two members of the Save the Pool Committee said they’ve done their own estimates and the numbers just don’t add up.
“We got our estimates and [Burke’s] are a little over the top,” Bethann Nolen said. “We feel like we were kind of hit in the gut a bit, knowing they’re trying to change the grant.”
At Tuesday’s meeting, Burke did make a suggestion to use the money for a splash pad instead of a pool, but there are no concrete plans.
“Just a suggestion, along with all the other ideas thrown out there,” he said.
“We don’t have a pool, we don’t have a skating rink, we don’t have anything around here. The city needs the pool opened,” Nolen said.
Burke’s new plan is to change the name of a grant they received and use the money to improve other parts of the park while they continue to work on finding a way to open the pool.