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Pool bubble re-installed in PTC

It won’t be re-open until October 15, but the new bubble has been erected over the Kedron pools as the “winter” pool season approaches.

Unlike in years past, the setup took about a day, compared to up to a week-long process previously, said City Manager Jim Pennington.

“They found out some really neat tricks they could do,” while installing the bubble, Pennington said.

The bubble system was stored over the summer in modular storage units to avoid the costs of building a new storage area for it, city officials have said previously. In years past, the bubble system was mothballed over the summer in the basement of the recreation department’s administration building, but the hope is the new storage process will help extend the life of the materials.

Public Works Director Mark Caspar said the last of the lighting installation will be completed next week and a fire marshal inspection must also be approved before the facility can open.

This is the first time the city has replaced the air-supported structure that is built over the pools temporarily during the offseason months. The bubble keeps the pools open nearly year-round and has allowed for both free swim and a multitude of use by swim teams from those in recreational leagues all the way up to high school swim teams.

The pools are also used year-round for water aerobics classes including those for older adults.

The city council voted to finance the cost of the bubble structure over a 10-year period, with an annual payment of $76,000. A city review of expenses attributed to the bubble determined that it cost more than $176,817, including the debt service payment, to operate the bubble after factoring in some $64,266 in expected operating revenues, largely from fees charged to the swim teams.

The new bubble went on-line in February, several months into the winter pool season. But the last full winter season, some 5,417 people used the pool from October 2010 to March 2011, not including an additional 1.086 on seven swim teams including all five Fayette high schools and also swim lessons, according to city data. Another 351 people took part in recreational aquatics classes in that time frame.

The new bubble project ran over the original budget estimates in part because a new anchoring system was necessary due to flaws in the original underground supports, officials said. The city also had to pay for repairs to the grounding system designed to protect pool users from receiving an electrical shock.

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