Nichols Park Pool Renovation Headed Back to Drawing Board

By Jeremy Coumbes on June 27, 2023 at 9:47am

The Jacksonville City Council received some concerning news in regard to the planned renovations to the Nichols Park Pool last night.

Greg Hillis with Benton and Associates said after as many as eight different contractors had plans in hand for bidding on the estimated $1.6 million renovation to the pool, only one submitted a bid which came in at over $3 million, just over $1.5 million over the estimated budget.

Ward 2 Alderwoman and Parks and Lakes Committee Chair, Lori Large Oldenettel says the project is going back to the committee for some major adjustments. “We’re going back to the drawing board and we’re working with Benton and Associates. They are going to work with the one bidder that we got to see what we might be able to do to bring something back to the council that we could vote on.’

The Nichols Park Pool has been closed this season for the pending renovations that included a major overhaul of the pool’s infrastructure including the replacement of the aging gutter system, and replacement of the existing surge tank to bring it up to modern standards. A zero-entry access is also planned for the shallow end on the west side of the pool.

Plans to renovate the pool have been discussed since 2019. Mayor Andy Ezard says the city is regrouping to ensure the plans to renovate the pool still can proceed despite the current setback. “It came at a bad time because we were gearing up for the project but the estimate came in really high from just one bidder.

Now we have to regroup, the engineers are regrouping. The council is going to hear at the next meeting where we are at with the contractors to scale it down to meet our means as far as the one point five million that we’ve budgeted for. Because it went up double. Three million, and we just can’t tackle that right now.

But we can still make it ascetically pleasing, plus get the infrastructure ran and have some bells and whistles we believe with the one and a half we already have budgeted.

I think it’s going to work out in the end. It’s just a shame that we can’t have it all that we wanted for this project.”

Last year the city was approved for a $400,000 OSLAD grant of matching funds, and was combined with a portion of the city’s unused ARPA funds to add amenities such as a splash pad.

Oldenettel says she is confident that they can rework the plan to fit the budget that still allows for the pool to reopen next year. “I think we will be able to come up with a plan that makes sure that the pool is open at least for part of the season next year. We know that people miss the swimming pool and we don’t want it to be offline for two years. So our hope is that we will be able to work this plan out with the bidder and hopefully have at least a partial swimming year next year.”

Oldenettel says the plan is to have new options for the renovation to present to the full council for approval at their next scheduled meeting on July 10th so no more time is lost on the project while the pool currently sits closed for the season.