MADISON, Ala. - Madison is working to create more "indoor" pool space by placing an air-supported covering over the Dublin Park outdoor pool. The covering will go up next month in preparation for fall and winter swimming.
The city first proposed the covering as a solution to crowded swim practices at the city's other indoor swimming space.
Monday, the Madison City Council approved funding a contractor to install the covering sometime in August. Kory Alfred, Madison Parks and Recreation Director, said the pool will need to close a few weekends sooner than usual in order to do that. The outdoor pool will now close on August 5, with a week or so to prepare for the construction.
"We're missing about 3 weekends that we normally would be open at the outdoor pool," he said. "There may be some who are disappointed that we are not open until Labor Day."
To install the dome, crews will need to place a temporary tarp and walkway over the pool so they can blow up the air-supported structure. Then, the pool will be enclosed in a climate-controlled area for the season.
"Swimmers will be able to swim in January in our outdoor pool," said Alfred. "We've actually added two boilers to heat the water. You know, it's an extra six lanes of swim space we didn't have before."
Those six lanes are desperately needed because swimming is so popular in Madison, but space is limited in the water during the winter months.
"Prior to the air structure, we had 9 kids actually swimming in a lane," said Alfred. "It's amazing the success they have since it looks more like synchronized swimming than competitive swimming"
Alfred said the additional pool space this creates will not only help during swim practices, but for recreational activities in the city.
"This will help us add more water time for, for example, swim lessons, that we've had to cut back on. And different aquatic programs," he explained. "We hope to do a majority of our swim lessons and programmed activities in the dome, and get the Dublin building back to what it was originally intended for, which is a drop-in recreational facility." He said more open swim time is a goal, too.
The city has long said that the dome is not a permanent solution to the pool space problems it faces. Alfred said other options are not out of the question, but the dome is useful for the time being.
"The city still hasn't given up on the idea of an indoor facility," he said, "because we are basically, for lack of a better term, putting a band-aid on our pool water situation. But at least we are getting additional pool space for our community."