News from the Tennessee Valley State, Local and National news
FRIDAY, JULY 6, 2007

Children at Carrie Matthews Recreation Center ham it up for the camera Thursday in the facility’s renovated swimming pool. So far, there’s only one apparent drawback to the renovations: Getting them out of the pool is no easy chore.
Daily photo by Gary Cosby Jr.
Children at Carrie Matthews Recreation Center ham it up for the camera Thursday in the facility's renovated swimming pool. So far, there's only one apparent drawback to the renovations: Getting them out of the pool is no easy chore.


Renovated pool draws crowds

By Catherine Godbey · 340-2441

Splish. Splash.

Marco. Polo.

The sounds of summertime revelry reverberate through the streets of Northwest Decatur. Follow the sounds and you will spot children carrying beach towels and bottles of sunscreen.

They are flip-flopping their way to the recently renovated pool at Carrie Matthews Recreation Center.

The pool's renovations and additions appeal to all ages. Children play in the splash pad, teenagers race one another in the competition lanes and adults dip their feet in the water.

A major addition to the pool is the splash pad, which includes a rain castle, water arches and jet bars that shoot streams of water. The goal of parks officials when they decided to include a splash pad was to cater to younger children.

Based on the number of smiles and laughter, the department achieved its goal. Curtis Roberson, 6, said his favorite part was running through the jet bars and getting his back wet.

"When kids see the splash pad their faces light up," Suzette Dye, supervisor of Carrie Matthews, said. "It makes you wish you were young again,"

A swimming pool, which appeals to older children, accompanies the splash pad.

Eleven-year-old Tierra Williams and 12-year-old Aaliyah Orr, both of Decatur, describe the pool with one word: "Awesome."

"I like the pool a lot better this year," Orr said.

"It's fun and safe for the little kids."

"This is a place where we can hang out and talk. If we didn't come here, we'd be bored and probably walking the street," Jacob Matthews, 10, said.

With a length of 25 yards and a depth of 5 feet, the pool meets the requirements of a competition site established by the International Swimming Association. Local swim teams utilize the pool's competition size for practice.

Decatur Parks and Recreation Director Jeff Dunlap said the department might eventually look to host swim meets at Carrie Matthews.

Along with adding a splash pad and competition lanes, renovations included replacing the materials in the pool. Built in 1971, the original pool's bottom and sides consisted of aluminum, which is prone to problems and expensive to repair.

"The old pool had major leaks and structural problems caused by its age," Dunlap said. "It just wasn't feasible to pour money into that pool."

Concrete and plaster replaced the aluminum in the renovated pool. According to Benny Burleson, president of Burleson Pools, concrete pools can last decades and structurally are more sound than aluminum.

"Aluminum has never been the standard," Burleson said. "The industry standard has always been concrete."

The renovated pool, which opened June 11, continues to generate a crowd. Before this year, monitoring the pool's capacity was never an issue, Dye said. This year the staff creates a waiting list because the pool is filled to its legal capacity.

"The first week we were opened people were coming over just to look at it," Dye said. "Everybody just loves it."

The renovation represents one of a number of projects the Parks and Recreation Department undertook this year.

In addition to Carrie Matthews, the department renovated the Jimmy Johns Tennis Center, Wilson Morgan Park, Delano Park, Jack Allen Recreation Complex and the Aquadome. All of the projects are either complete or in the final stages of completion.

With the aid of the city's $16.2 million bond issue, the city funded the restorations, which totaled nearly $5 million.

"The No. 1 reason we upgrade and add facilities is for the citizens," Dunlap said. "In these renovations we also focus on how we can maximize our tourism efforts."

In the swim

  • Public Hours: Monday-Saturday 1 p.m. — 4:45 p.m.; Sun 2 p.m. — 4:45 p.m.

  • Cost: Free to everyone.

  • Open daily until school begins.

  • Open weekends after school begins, weather permitting.

    - Catherine Godbey

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