Murphy and Berry pools will not open this summer due to possible health and safety concerns related to deteriorating infrastructure conditions, said Winnsboro Mayor Sonny Dumas.
Erosion underneath portions of the concrete floor caused major cracks in both pools. Additionally, termite damage in bathroom areas, leaking plumbing and code violations plague the popular summer destinations owned by Winnsboro.
Murphy Pool, located at Landis Memorial Park, was constructed approximately 70 years ago. Berry Pool, located at West Winnsboro Recreational Park, was constructed approximately 50 years ago.
“The deterioration of the pools could be health threatening,” Dumas said. “We are not looking at resuscitating the pools to be ready for this summer because of our money situation.”
Initial estimates to fully replace concrete, fencing and piping of both pools costs some $230,000, according to a Meyer, Meyer, LaCroix and Hixson Inc. report. A second estimate that called for partial replacements of concrete and fencing totaled nearly $113,000 for both pools.
Meyer, Meyer, LaCrois and Hixson Inc. is an engineering and land surveying firm in Alexandria.
Winnsboro officials are prioritizing how they spend public money, and Murphy and Berry pools are lower on the list than correcting Winnsboro’s taxes and refurbishing Winnsboro’s water tanks, Dumas said.
In March, Winnsboro received a $211,000 Internal Revenue Service bill stemming from penalties for not filing W-2 forms dating to former Mayor Jackie Johnson’s administration.
Additionally, Louisiana Department of Health is requesting Winnsboro’s two water towers be repainted at a cost somewhere between $100,000 to $250,000 each, said Phillip Robinson, water superintendent. Winnsboro has been out of compliance with the Department of Health for three years due to the condition of the water towers.
“We do not have the money this year to repair the pools,” Dumas said. “We are prioritizing the money and the pools are lower on the list of things we have to do.”
Since 2015, pool expenditures have outweighed pool revenue by $7,686, according to a report generated by Winnsboro. Pool income was listed at $10,831, and pool spendings was listed at $18,517.00.
For the future, Winnsboro officials are looking at a 20-acre plot near Riser Road for a possible new park equipped with a pool, splash pad and cooling area for adults as well as a walking trail around the circumference, Dumas said. Officials are also considering a possible walking trail from Common Street to Delta Community College.
“We are working to get back on our feet,” Dumas said. “Things are going to be tight this year, but we are looking at future projects for Winnsboro.”
In the present, Dumas said the decision to close the pools was a safety issue more than a financial issue.
“I’m only trying to potentially save somebody’s life and health or save Winnsboro from a possible lawsuit because of the condition of our pools,” Dumas said.