Following upgrades to Upper Arlington's oldest public swimming pool in each of the previous three years, the city again is eyeing improvements at Devon Pool.

When Devon Pool, which was built in the 1930s, opened for the 2017 swim season, it featured brand-new stainless-steel pool walls that had been installed for $528,200.

That work was followed by $100,933 in deck furniture and shade structures that were introduced to the pool at the outset of the 2018 season, and a new $1.28 million bathhouse was unveiled last season.

This year, there won't be new upgrades to greet swimmers when the pool opens. As of last week, city officials said they hadn't made any adjustments to the planned May 23 opening of the city's three pools.

Once the season closes, however, the third of four planned phases of renovations will begin.

Council voted unanimously April 13 to give Columbus-based Setterlin Building Co. an approximately $1.43 million contract that calls for replacing two mechanical buildings that operate the pool's filtration, with a single facility.

The planned work following this season also will include replacing most of the existing concrete pool deck, as well as the installation of a new perimeter fence that matches the rest of the fencing.

"Work is currently scheduled to begin at the close of the 2020 swim season," said Jeff Anderson, Upper Arlington's parks planning and development manager. "Devon Pool is scheduled to close Aug. 19.

"If we have a full outdoor aquatics season as is hoped, Devon Pool programming would not be impacted by the construction."

Anderson said the latest Devon Pool project is scheduled to be completed by spring 2021.

"However, if it is necessary for the city to make adjustments to this year's outdoor pool schedule as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, it's possible that construction would begin earlier if the Setterlin Building Co. is in a position to move the project up," he said.

During an April 6 City Council conference session, council members Michele Hoyle and Jim Lynch questioned the timing of the Devon Pool project in light of the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

However, Steve Schoeny, city manager, and Debbie McLaughlin, parks and recreation director, recommended moving forward.

This was in part due to predictions that construction prices might rise as well as safety concerns for pool guests and workers.

"Currently, the mechanical equipment is housed in two buildings that are in poor condition," Anderson and McLaughlin stated in an April 6 report to council. "Emergency repairs have been performed to stabilize them, but after many years of use, the buildings need a complete replacement.

"They will be replaced by a single building designed to match the exterior of the pool house."

McLaughlin told council April 6 that pool staff use the mechanical buildings on a regular basis and a permanent solution was needed.

She also said the new building would feature safety enhancements, such as eyewash stations, because the staff works with chlorine and other chemicals.

"Part of the work is also replacing a significant amount of the pool deck surface around the main pool," she said. "As this concrete has aged, certain parts hold water and the concrete is starting to flake and chip, which is not the best environment for people in bare feet.

"We want to replace this as soon as we can so that we don't have patrons become injured with cuts."

While the Phase 3 projects are to be completed in time for next year's season, officials opted to defer the renovation or replacement of the toddler pool.

A timeline for that project has not been set.

In the meantime, Anderson said officials are continuing to assess the situation regarding the pandemic and how it might impact the pools and other public facilities.

"The city is closely monitoring all developments associated with COVID-19 and is making contingency plans relative to the outdoor pools and all recreation programming and special events planned for late spring and summer," Anderson said. "Should adjustments and further cancellations be necessary, we will share updates with residents as decisions are made."

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