GAFFNEY, SC (WSPA) – The only public pool in Cherokee County could never reopen again, but have its location transformed.
“In the summer time, the kids flocked there,” said Nick Nguyen. That’s how the Gaffney native remembers the Irene Pool off West Montgomery Street near his current home. “The pool was full. You couldn’t get in the pool. It was awesome.”
The pool now sits empty, locked away because of maintenance issues.
“It’s pretty much been lying dormant for a few years now, becoming an eye sore,” said Cherokee County NAACP President Reverend Wilbert Jamison. “I remember coming out myself as a kid.”
A vision of possibilities has motivated community leaders like Reverend Wilbert Jamison. He says local veterans groups and the NAACP are working to make the pool area into a place for activities and inspiration for children.
“We truly believe in the vision that the veterans park committee has for this particular park,” said Rev. Jamison. “Once the pool is torn down and filled in and we get a splash pad, walking trail, exercise area, and picnic area as well, we believe it’ll be more inviting for the youth.”
It’s an idea he says shows signs of promise when city leaders approved a budget with funds to demolish the pool.
“If we demolish the pool, there will not be a public swimming pool in Gaffney or Cherokee County,” said Gaffney Mayor Henry Jolly. “Little boys and girls from underprivileged neighborhoods will not have anywhere to learn how to swim.”
Mayor Henry Jolly says he’d prefer renovating the pool, but $25,000 has been set aside in the city’s proposed budget to demolish the pool.
“The vision that we have for this park, we really feel will come to pass,” Jamison said.
Community leaders are still working on how to fund those proposed changes for the Irene pool area.
That’s just one part of the city’s proposed budget. The budget does include a tax increase for homeowners. Mayor Jolly says the proposal will add about $20 more per year on a $100,000 property. This isn’t a done deal as the budget has not gotten final approval.