Pensacola's Cecil T. Hunter Pool will be getting a facelift.
One of two public pools in Pensacola, the city is set to begin a $1.9 million project to rehabilitate and renovate the pool facility, with the first step to demolish the current pool house.
Hunter Pool opened in 1984 on Blount Street between the Interstate 110 overpass. It was later named after former Pensacola City Councilman Cecil T. Hunter, who drove the project to build the pool in the early 1980s.
The Pensacola City Council voted 6-1 on Thursday to award a $1.6 million contract to Emerald Coast Constructors Inc. to demolish the current pool house and build a new 2,065-square-foot pool house that will have an office, restrooms and showers.
A new pool deck will be added to the south end of the pool and the landscaping will be reworked, including the removal of the circular driveway at the building.
Additional architecture and design costs give the overall project a $1.9 million price tag.
With the vote Thursday, the contractors will be given the go-ahead to demolish the old building. A temporary trailer will be put on the property to allow the pool to open on Memorial Day weekend and run for the swim season through Labor Day, according to city spokesperson Kaycee Lagarde.
Hunter Pool namesake passes:Pensacola civil rights advocate, longtime City Councilman Cecil T. Hunter dies at 96
Not so fast:Tougher rules for Pensacola e-scooters wins approval from City Council
Charter review:As Pensacola's first charter review begins, past and future mayors support current system
After the 2022 swim season, construction will begin on the new pool house.
"Our goal during construction is to minimize the impact to pool users," Lagarde said.
The lowest bids for the project came in more than $700,000 higher than the city's previous budget for the project.
Parks and Recreation Director Brian Cooper told the council on Monday the higher cost was because construction prices have risen so much over the last year.
"You hear that over and over again, almost like a broken record," Cooper said. "Everything is coming in high and we're doing our best to get these projects completed. And this is one that is definitely needed. Hunter Pool needs a new facility."
To make up for the shortfall, Cooper proposed moving several small amounts of funding in $25,000 to $30,000 increments from other city parks in the local option sales tax budget to the Hunter Pool project.
Cooper said the money had been set aside for those parks but there were no projects planned for them and most didn't need any additional attention from the city's sales tax fund.
Councilwoman Sherri Myers objected to the proposal singling out Camelot Park in her district and said it was another example of District 2 being robbed of funding for the central areas of town.
The sales tax budget had $25,000 set for Camelot Park and Myers said she could find ways to spend the $25,000 at the park in caring for the trees or increasing accessibility at the park.
Councilwoman Jennifer Brahier said she also didn't want to take the funds from other parks but this project outweighed that concern because the city's public pools are in an "embarrassing" state.
"The reality is we need places for our kids to swim and take swimming lessons and things like that, and they really have been in dire straits," Brahier said.
Jim Little can be reached at email@example.com and 850-208-9827.