The City of Oak Ridge has enough chlorine to continue operating the outdoor pool until a new shipment arrives in mid-July, and the Oak Ridge City Council is expected to approve a single bid for chlorine briquettes during its July 12 meeting.
In June, City Council did not approve a sole-source contract to buy more chlorine briquettes after Oak Ridge City Council member Rick Chinn, who is mayor pro tem, objected to spending money on the pool. The sole-source contract required unanimous approval, so the one “no” vote meant the purchase was not approved.
Before the vote, Oak Ridge Recreation and Parks Director Jon Hetrick had told the seven-member Council that the city might have enough chlorine to last through the end of June and possibly into July. Running out of chemicals to treat the pool would result in having to shut it down, Hetrick said. However, in response to questions about a potential “break in service,” Hetrick said at that meeting that he didn’t have an accurate count of the amount of chlorine in stock at the pool.
On Wednesday, Hetrick said there is enough chlorine at the pool to continue operating it without interruption until a new shipment arrives in mid-July. The purchase after a single bid was received still requires City Council approval. However, since it was put out for bid, the vote will no longer have to be unanimous. Six Council members voted in favor of the purchase at the June meeting, so it is likely to pass when Council meets on July 12.
“Assuming it is approved, we will order chlorine the following day and should receive it by the end of the week,” Hetrick said in response to questions this week. “We currently have enough chlorine on hand to continue pool operation without interruption until the new shipment arrives.”
The purchase considered by the Oak Ridge City Council in June would have allowed the city to buy up to $60,000 worth of chlorine briquettes from Duffield Aquatics of Anderson, South Carolina. The purchase would have included about $25,000 for a shipment in early July and a cushion because of a shortage in the chlorine supply. Duffield Aquatics has been identified by the manufacturer as the sole provider in the region of the Pulsar chlorinating briquettes used by the city.
Some future changes at the pool are possible. In June, Hetrick said the Oak Ridge Recreation and Parks Advisory Board is studying the pool and considering its long-term viability. The board has background and historical information, and it is evaluating what a future pool could look like, whether new or rebuilt. A consultant or engineer could eventually be hired.
Hetrick told Council in June that the pool has been leaking, and the city has had to add substantial amounts of water every night. The Oak Ridge Public Works Department has investigated the leak, but it’s not clear if the source has been found.
The outdoor pool was built in 1944, when Oak Ridge was part of the top-secret Manhattan Project, by the Corps of Engineers during World War II. The pool had major renovations in 1992-1993, and it re-opened for the 1994 summer season, the city said. The pool is spring-water fed, and it is considered one of the largest in the nation with 2.2 million gallons of water. The pool is open for about 2.5 months each summer. In 2019, the pool, which is near Oak Ridge High School, received a historic preservation award from the Oak Ridge Heritage and Preservation Association.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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