October 18, 2021

Wickwire pool house makeover planned

Bob Ellis/staff photographer

Swimmers are shown around the pool house at Wickwire Pool in this file photo. With the help of a $407,586 state grant, the city plans to add a ramp at the pool house to accommodate the disabled, new shower and bathroom fixtures, lighting upgrades and the replacement of decaying tile floors.

John McNerney heard the praise all summer: Nice pool, John. Beautiful. Love it, John.

But not the pool house, John.

Now, McNerney, the city of Cortland parks and recreation director, can do something about the pool house at Wickwire Pool.

The city received $407,586 from the recent state Regional Economic Development Council round of grants to renovate the pool house. It will:

• Add a ramp into the building for people with disabilities.

• Install new shower and bathroom fixtures.

• Improve lighting.

• Replace the decaying tile floors and patch cracks in the walls.

“Basically, everything needs to be upgraded,” McNerney said Monday. Much of the building no longer meets code. “The facility is the original pool house from 1946.”

The improvements follow a $989,000 project in 2015 and 2016 to rebuild the now 70-year-old pool at Suggett Park off Homer Avenue.

The new pool has an L-shape design and includes a ramp and stair access into a new shallow area for easier accessibility for children and people with wheelchairs. It includes a walled-off play area and at the deeper end, eight 25-yard lanes for lap swimming.

The Department of Public Works began demolishing the old pool in September 2015 to make way for the Eden-based pool renovators William L. Watson Co. to do work once the snow melted in the spring. The pool opened in June.

The pool house project will work similarly, McNerney said. The city is now working on estimates with engineers and architects, so the work won’t be done by the 2017 swimming season. Maybe 2018.

But while the city has $400,000 to work with, other questions remain. Can the city provide its matching component for the grant in in-kind services, as it did with the pool? If not, how much can the city afford? It’s all part of the process.

And it has to happen, eventually, McNerney said. “It’s just a challenge to keep clean,” he said. “It’s worn down.”