Clarkston residents worried about having somewhere to relax and soak up the sun this summer can rest easy because work on the new Milam Park pool complex will begin in the next few weeks.
Construction is expected to be completed in July and, according to Mayor Emanuel Ransom, no later than July 4, if everything goes as planned.
“They’ve almost guaranteed me that they would have it finished by July 4, and we want to have a big grand opening,” Ransom said.
The facilities will include a new pool and kiddie pool, both of which are wheelchair accessible, an extended poolside patio area for receptions, bike racks and a new separate building to house the pool pumps and equipment.
However, Ransom has much bigger plans for the community and the pool is just the beginning.
“I really want an enclosed pool; that’s what I’ve wanted since the beginning because I want to put some training rooms in there, some exercise rooms, a walking track around the top…my vision is way up [there],” he said.
The project, which cost approximately $800,000, was paid for by The City of Clarkston and the DeKalb County Community Development Department through the use of the county’s Community Development Block Grant Recovery Program (CDBG).
The CDBG program works with communities to modernize infrastructure and improve energy efficiency by using funds allocated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development from the Economic Recovery Act of 2008 and American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
“When I first became a councilman in 2002 we started having problems with the pool. [That’s when] we began looking at [building] a new pool, because of the inspections and replacements we underwent,” Ransom said.
Ransom explained that rather than try to continue to retrofit the pool with repairs—it had two pumps replaced at $5,000 each and officials were told they needed to install a new filtration unit—they decided to try to build a completely new pool with the county’s help.
“When we went to DeKalb County they were elated when we said we wanted to build a new pool because our pool services more DeKalb County residents than it does Clarkston residents,” Ransom said.
Ransom also hopes to develop an area directly behind the new pool for receptions, in an effort to make the park more of a draw for people both in and outside of the city who can come to swim, have a family reunion or even visit the lake.
“Right across the street we’re putting in a brand new fishing dock, crosswalk and decorative fences down by the lake, so people from the pool will have access to boating,” Ransom said.
He said he hopes that after five years the city will break even on the investment and this in turn will help spur more development projects.
“It will be a wonderful thing when we finish it and we hope it will be sustainable,” he said.