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Summer Planning in Heart of Winter

Fifty-year-old Fairfax swimming pool undergoes major renovations for the first time in the pool's history.

When the infrastructure supporting a swimming pool turns 50-years-old, the maintenance and repairs start to cost more than tearing everything apart and starting from scratch.

That's exactly what happened to Fairfax Swimming Pool, at 4200 Roberts Road. James Patteson, president of the pool's board, said it became obvious that it was necessary to update the entire facility. Since pool's lot included a half-acre of vacant land at the corner of Roberts Road and Forest Avenue, they were able to sell that portion of the property to finance the $600,000 project.

"We were just spending more and more money on basic maintenance," said Patteson. "If one of the main plumbing lines breaks, we would have to close down the pool. We were really at the end of useful life on that structure."

The Fairfax City Council rezoned the property, allowing Patteson to split the half-acre portion of the pool's lot to sell it as two, quarter-acre residential lots. Batu Contractors in Fairfax purchased the lots and currently have a sign there advertising two single-family homes the company plans to build.

Michael Elston, one of the pool's neighbors, said trees on the vacant portion of the pool lot provided sound buffers to noisy swim meets at a June 13 City Council meeting. At that meeting, Councilmember Jeff Greenfield wrote a condition requiring that the pool to be responsible to come back to planning staff to ensure and provide that proper buffering and screening will exist on the sold property.

“We’re going to the best of our ability try to create a win-win situation for the pool, and certainly the community,” said Mayor Robert Lederer.

The construction has not resulted in any tree removals, said Mary Stinnett, the dive rep at the pool. Pool members expect more noise buffering will be provided by the homes proposed on the adjacent property too. She said the pool's board is on good terms with the neighbors now that the noise issue appears to be settled.

As for an increase in pool memberships because of the renovation, another concern neighbors have previously cited, Patteson said it's unlikely.

"We're just hoping to maintain membership. We've been worrying about losing members because of the pool's condition," he said. "We're trying to have a nice facility for our existing members."

Stinnett said pool membership can go up to 350 families. It has averaged about 200-220 families in the 16 years that Patteson has been a member, he said. The original design allowed for 375 families, which hasn't been met in more than two decades.

THE RENOVATIONS WILL bring new, updated amenities to Fairfax Swimming Pool, said Patteson. The main part of the project is the six-lane, 25-meter competitive swimming pool. It will be V-shaped, he said, with a diving well and a "kiddie" pool on either end of the V's legs. The new pool will also feature two, one-meter diving boards to keep up with the "very active" swim and dive team, The Fairfax Frogs, that calls the pool home.

"We wanted to have nicer swim lanes and a fully compliant diving well," said Patteson.

Patteson said that the old pool lacked a good shallow area for children to play in that transitioned from the "kiddie" pool to the main pool. One has been incorporated into the remodeling plans.

"We'll have kind of a toddler area that is 2-feet deep," said Stinnett.

The baby pool plans include a zero-depth entry, or beach entry, where babies and small children can play in the water, without actually having to swim in it. Since Stinnett said that many young families seem to be moving into the neighborhood and joining the pool, it was important to include child-friendly amenities in the pool's renovation plans.

Stinnett said she expects the construction to be completed by the start of the 2007 season, which is Memorial Day weekend. Patteson said he hopes financing will become available for a second phase of renovations in the near future, which would include improvements to the locker rooms and bathroom facilities.

"We should have a really great facility when we're all done," said Stinnett.