By John Schaffner
Sandy Springs and Buckhead residents who have been regular summer visitors to the Chastain Park Pool will likely notice a lot of changes this season after $1 million of repairs and changes to the facility.
But those who have not been regulars may just think it looks pretty good for an old pool and bath house constructed in the early 1940s, states Jim King, president of the Chastain Park Athletic Club, who has visited the pool almost every day watching a total renovation in progress.
“There was $1 million set aside from the city opportunity bond money which is being used for all this work,” King explained on a hot, sunny afternoon just 10 days before the pool’s May 17 opening. “Last summer the community voted on what they thought was going to be $1.5 million spent here. It was changed to $1 million. So, we had to readjust our plans,” he said. “Some of the community is expecting certain things to be done.” He said some of that changed because of the reduction in bond money.
But King makes no apologies. He points to significant improvements that have been accomplished by the public/private partnership of the city of Atlanta, which owns the facility, and the non-profit Chastain Park Athletic Club, which operates it under a lease from the city.
The most visually apparent change to the pool is the addition of two bulkheads that separate the pool into three sections — a deep end for diving, a central area with 10 lanes for competitions and a shallow end for smaller children and parents with their toddlers. The diving area has depths up to 10 feet. The swimming lane depth ranges from four to six-and-a-half feet deep. King said he was not sure what the depth of the shallow end is, but it had been around two feet deep, he said.
With the bulkhead having been added, there now are four sides for the shallow end, King explained. Two steps were also added there, “so little kids can use that area with their mothers” since, there is no kids’ pool.
Continuing to point out the new improvements, King said there is 50 percent more piping under the pool deck — to capture all of the water that comes from the scupper system that has been installed.
“We recreated a surge tank that is going to re-circulate the water,” he explained. “Hence, the water is going to be much warmer this year, which has always been a concern.”
As part of the renovation work, the 30- to 40-year-old sand filters have been replaced with cartridge filters, “which means we are going to save an additional 90,000 gallons of water this summer,” King said. “With the old sand filters, you had to backwash them and every time you did that you lost 5,000 gallons of water.”
The main drain was replaced, “because its integrity was in question,” he said. “So, we have a complete new and efficient water circulation system. All we can really lose is splash water and evaporation.”
The former kids’ pool area was concreted over to create more pool deck. The first two rows of the spectator bleachers were removed to create a terrace area for tables or lounge chairs.
King had great praise for the Cherokee Town Club, which donated their old pool furniture to the association when they bought new furniture. The donation consisted of 184 lounge chairs, 99 straight-back chairs, 17 large tables and seven small tables.
In the bathhouse, the floor is being resurfaced so that it is non-slip. Partitions have been added in the showers in both locker rooms. The bathrooms have new lights, toilets and sinks.
The Athletic Club only uses the lower level of the Bath House. The Galloway School uses the upper floor.
“Everything being done has a purpose, either to better serve the public or make the pool more efficient,” King stated. “We are not trying to be fancy. We have a very old pool and we are trying to make it as efficient as we can.”
He said the Athletic Club is hoping to find an economic model to extend the season later into the fall. Presently they close the pool after labor day. “It could probably stay open until November,” King said. “We had explored a solar heating system for the pool and had a price, but it got cut in the budget. We are going to revisit it after we see how the pool operates.”
The Chastain Park Athletic Club administers the facility. It hires staff to handle admissions and is responsible for lifeguards, chemicals and maintenance. The city’s burden is the water and electric bill.
King said the club has “a great swim team with about 250 kids. It won all regular meets last year and finished third in the Atlanta swimming championship. We have had 750 people in the stands when the team competed against Brookwood Hills at the pool.”