That wish will soon become a reality.
Abell, now the city’s Parks & Recreation director, made the announcement during Monday’s Metropolis City Council meeting that the city will receive a $331,000 grant to construct a new bathhouse at 50-year-old pool on East Fourth Street.
The funding is through the state’s Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development (OSLAD) program, which is part of Gov. Pat Quinn’s agenda to ensure that no child is left inside. The initiative is designed to expand outdoor recreation and open space in communities throughout Illinois.
The Metropolis City Pool and its bathhouse originally opened in 1964. The bathhouse was designed by the late Tom Graman, a local architect “who was ahead of his time. It was the most well built and planned building and when you think of its vicinity to the railroad and the river and the fact it’s 50 years old, it’s amazing,” Abell said.
However, while the pool has been renovated over the years, Abell said because of the bathhouse’s concrete structure, its renovation was impossible. “It was all poured concrete — the walls, the floor, the ceiling — so you would have to bust out the concrete and basically start over and still not have what you needed.”
That included access for the disabled, which originally mazed through the bathhouse until 11 years ago when a cut was made near the pool area to place decking and a gate for the wheelchair bound. However, Abell noted, because of the bathhouse’s configuration, they are unable to use the facility. That will change with the new structure.
“The biggest upside to this is the bathhouse will be ADA compliant, it will be safe,” Abell said of the grant. “In the 11 years I’ve been down there, I’ve made notes on what needs to be changed safety-wise to make it more family friendly, to make it compliant. We will be able to cut the response time to emergencies because we will have direct access from the concession area to the pool. We were fortunate enough that the State of Illinois agreed with us. I am thrilled.”
The new bathhouse will include areas for concessions, an office, first aid and separate dressing areas for men and women. The construction cost for the new bathhouse is $662,000. The City of Metropolis will be responsible for $331,000, which has to be paid upfront.
Mayor Billy McDaniel commended Abell and Sheryl Durham for writing the grant and going to Springfield to “plea their case” for it. This is the first time Abell has applied for an OSLAD grant and the first the city has received. “That is a very, very hard grant to obtain and there was a lot of hard work involved to receive it,” McDaniel said.
This, however, is not the first time Abell has applied for a grant for bathhouse renovations. As recently as June 2012, the council authorized her to apply for a grant through the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
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