The city is preparing to bury Woodlawn Pool, an abandoned structure that residents have wanted removed or repaired for many years.
Under the leadership of resident Spero Zoulas, residents have taken back the park, hacking through vegetation and painting over graffiti. At first, they wanted the pool reopened, but city officials made it clear that the pool was too far gone to save. They warned it might cost more than $1 million to fix, plus $100,000 a year to operate.
So residents settled on a new plan, and city officials have now agreed to fill the pool with sand and cover it with grass. It will be filled before winter.
“It’s basically a matter of finances,” Zoulas said. “It’s the most pragmatic approach. The city has no money.”
Besides, he said, the pool would have been open for only six weeks a year, and many neighborhood residents have their own backyard pool.
“It doesn’t make a lot of sense,” he said.
Instead, residents will build an ice skating rink there every winter — an inexpensive perk that’s not found in any other city park.
“We wanted to craft a plan that’s low-maintenance,” Zoulas said. “It would make Woodlawn a little unique. And bring in people throughout the year, not just the summer months.”
The plan is to drill holes into the ground around the pool and place threaded caps there. In the winter, residents would screw metal rods into the holes, put down a rubber liner and erect boards. It would only need to be cold enough to freeze a few inches of water.
City officials will also remove the inner fence around the pool when they fill it in, which will open up the park. Currently, residents must walk through a basketball court to get to the playground at the back of the park. The pool and pool building block the only other access to the back of the park.
Next year, the neighborhood will start raising money to deal with the pool building, which they’d like to selectively demolish. Residents want to turn it into an open-air pavilion.
“Costwise, it’s going to be the same whether you demolish or convert the building,” Zoulas said.
And it will be expensive: there’s asbestos in the building.
But it has a cellar, which the residents could use to store park equipment in the winter. Zoulas hopes they could also build a chimney and grilling area.
“We’ll have to work to raise money for it,” he said.
Residents are planning a fundraiser to start that process.
In the meantime, they’re taking turns cleaning the park each month. The biggest users — teens — seem to be impressed.
“Just talking to the kids, they see it’s improving,” Zoulas said.
And, as he’d hoped, they took notice.
“We haven’t had an incident of graffiti this year,” he said.
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