New Tupelo pool likely at Ballard Park or Veterans Park

By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – The city’s future indoor aquatic facility will be recommended for either Ballard Park or Veterans Park, with a final decision expected later this month.
Municipal park officials will reveal preliminary study findings of the proposed pool complex during a March 24 presentation, likely at City Hall.
The study was launched in November with City Council approval. JBHM Architects of Tupelo won the contract and hired Isaac Sports Group as a sub-consultant.
The firms are working in conjunction with the Tupelo Parks and Recreation Department and regular users of the current indoor municipal pool to develop the plan.
Their work involves preliminary drawings, site selection, sizing, programming and cost estimates. This portion of the contract will not exceed $100,000.
The pool itself is estimated to cost between $7 million to $10 million, depending on its final size and features, said Parks and Recreation Director Don Lewis.
“We’ve narrowed down our site selection to three locations,” Lewis said. “City Park, where the indoor pool is now; Veterans Park; and Ballard Park. But Ballard and Veterans are the top two choices. City Park is a distant third.”
Ballard Park sits in west Tupelo and already boasts the city’s Sportsplex and Baseball complex. Veteran’s Park is located in east Tupelo near several municipal softball fields. Both are accessible by major roads and have ample parking. Lewis said adding the pool to either site makes sense.
City Park, though, is nestled into the Joyner neighborhood on a residential street, which could limit its access. Building a new aquatic center on the site of the current pool also would displace swimmers for the duration of the estimated two-year construction project.
Lewis said those factors weigh heavily against City Park’s consideration.
In addition to location, consultants likely will reveal details this month about the facility’s square-footage and amenities. Lewis said the complex will have at least two pools – one large and one small – as well as locker rooms, rest rooms and office space.
A kiddie pool is not planned, but it could be replaced with a splash pad instead.
Tupelo’s current and only public indoor swimming facility has an aging dome – or bubble – that will need replacing within two years. A new bubble will cost $800,000.
The city will pay for the architect with cash raised as part of a 2007 bond issue. But it likely will require a new 15-year bond issue to cover the entire pool project.
It would not require a tax increase.

Contact Emily Le Coz at (662) 678-1588 or emily.lecoz@journalinc.com.