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Alamo Heights pool getting upgrades

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ALAMO HEIGHTS — The Pool in Alamo Heights is undergoing a $1.19 million upgrade, marking the first significant improvements to the venue in several decades, officials said.

The pool, located at 250 Viesca St., has been a fixture of the community since 1947, earning the nickname the “Little Oasis” because of the recreational opportunities provided to generations of residents.

“There really hasn’t been any updates to the pool since it was built in 1947,” said City Manager Buddy Kuhn. “The pool had leaks that were getting into the ground, it had an outdated gutter and filtration system. For the last probably about 25 years, it just kept getting repainted after being sanded down. It’s really down to us fixing it or closing it, so we decided to go ahead and fix everything.”

According to officials, the pool and adjacent baseball fields are on land owned by San Antonio that was leased in 1947 by Alamo Heights for 40 years and a small fee of $10. The deal was renewed in 1987 and goes to 2027.

In January 2019, the City Council awarded a contract to Guido Construction to completely renovate the pool. The project, which is underway, will see significant upgrades to nearly every facet of the pool.

The renovations are scheduled to be completed in time for the pool to reopen this summer.

“We had already upgraded the chlorination system about a year ago, but the filtration system really had never been upgraded, so that was a main thing that we’re doing,” Kuhn said. “A lot of the things we’re fixing are things the public will never see. We’re fixing all of the leaks, for example, and we’re adding a new gutter system. But, we are adding a new ceramic surface and new tiling that will keep with that ‘50s look that everyone loves.”

Other betterments include handrails, lighting to make the facility safer after dark, new lifeguard chairs, a  ramp that will lead into the pool, a ladder that will go all the way to the bottom at the deep end, and chair lifts to allow better access for visitors with disabilities.

Similar renovations will be completed in the facility’s restrooms to make them more compliant with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.

“(The pool) was pretty well antiquated and the infrastructure behind the scenes was pretty much falling apart,” said Rick Shaw, who oversees the day-to-day operations of the pool. “I think the city recognized that the community was using the pool and that it was a definite asset to the community.”

He added, “Realtors in the area have time and time again told the city that one of the frequent things they’re asked about by new residents is if there is a community pool. I think all of that put together added emphasis to needing to get the renovations done.”

City leaders never truly considered closing the pool, they said. It is not only a source of revenue, but also a symbol of the Alamo Heights community.

“A lot of what we are doing is really deferred maintenance,” said City Councilman Lawson Jessee. “The pool is an asset to the city and just like any asset, like a building, you have to put money back into it. It never really occurred to the city to close it down, but we knew that if we wanted to keep it around for another 70-plus years, we needed to do the work to bring it up to code and get it to a place that is deserving of our community and its residents.”

The pool will retain its retro feel, but reflect 21st century improvements when gates open this summer.

“There is really just a certain vibe to the pool that people really seem to like,” Shaw said. “It’s got that old 1950s look to it that makes people really nostalgic. I think the community has made it a meeting place and families have found it a great place to mix and mingle with other families. And, you have people who’ve been coming to it for generations. Some folks got their first jobs working there and have passed that down. Kids ride their bikes down there. It’s really just a great place for our residents to go each summer.”

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