Major repairs, bridge project doom Goebel Pool

Rather than ‘waste’ $500K, City to close water facility earlier than anticipated

COVINGTON, Ky. – In the end, Goebel Pool was doomed.

With the pool sitting almost directly in the path of the pending Brent Spence Bridge Corridor project, the City of Covington has elected not to make the substantial, expensive repairs that would be needed to keep Goebel open just a little longer.

Instead, the City is likely to close the pool earlier than it had planned and in the process save taxpayers some hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not more.

The City’s decision is scheduled to be made final Tuesday night, when the Covington Board of Commissioners takes up a consent agenda that includes a contract for a swim season that includes Randolph Pool and the Latonia Water Park/Splash Pad – but not Goebel.

The problem is that Goebel Pool is leaking about 50,000 gallons a week and suffering from foundation erosion that would require major work to shore up the pool’s old-fashioned metal liner, said Brandon Holmes, Covington’s Neighborhood Services Director. One of its buildings also needs a new roof.

“It wouldn’t be prudent to spend what we’re estimating could be as much as half a million dollars to keep the pool open for what could be only one more season before the bridge project closes it,” Holmes said. “That would be a serious waste of taxpayer money.”

Holmes’ recommendation was presented to the Commission this week as part of a contract for $165,855 for Swimsafe Pool Management to manage the Randolph and Latonia facilities for the coming swim season, which opens June 8 and ends Aug. 4.

The contract is an extension of last year’s contract revised to exclude Goebel and to change employees from “lifeguards” to “pool monitors” for the water park, which offers hoses, sprinklers, slides, and play equipment but not deep water. The contract includes staffing, water maintenance, and other operations.

After a short discussion focused on costs, the Commission on Tuesday placed the contract – sans Goebel -- on its consent agenda for next week.

Holmes said the City knew it would have to invest heavily to fix the erosion and roof issues but only recently discovered the leak in the pool, which holds roughly 450,000 gallons. Either way, the repairs would have been cost-prohibitive, given the bridge project.

The bridge project

He pointed out that Goebel Pool was due to be closed soon anyway to make way for the $3.6 billion Brent Spence Bridge Corridor Project, a massive federal- and state-funded infrastructure project that will include major repairs to the existing 61-year-old bridge, building a companion bridge to the west of the current bridge to carry through highway traffic, and redesigning 8 miles of approaches on both the Kentucky and Ohio sides. The new highway lanes would have run just feet from the pool’s fence, making swimming untenable both during and after the years’ long construction.

As part of Covington’s overarching agreement with the federal government, the City will give up 2.8 flood-prone acres on the western edge of the Goebel Park complex and in return receive 2.3 acres of more usable land on the northern edge of the park. The City also will receive $100,000 in planning funds to redesign the park and $1.3 million to offset the loss of the pool, plus additional funds for new court sports.

The City had begun planning a revamp of the surrounding Goebel Park several years ago but halted those plans as the decision to move ahead with the bridge corridor project was finalized. Holmes said that when the time is right, the City’s Parks & Rec staff will hold a new public input process to hear residents’ thoughts on the park’s redesign and new amenities.

“Parks & Rec has a proven track record of engaging with and listening to Covington families, and the look and features of the new Goebel Park will be no different,” he said.

’24 swim season

Meanwhile, Parks & Rec is working toward kicking off the 2024 swim season.

Swimming is free for Covington residents, although families must obtain a pass from the City. An updated pool pass form will soon be available on the City’s Swimming page. (The page and form currently have 2023 information.)

The Latonia splash pad is located at 43rd Street and Decoursey Avenue, and the Olympic-sized pool at Randolph – the City’s most-used aquatics facility – sits at East Eighth and Greenup streets. The swim season will include the usual assortment of programming, Parks and Rec staff said.

“Our aquatic facilities are important pieces of our summer recreation calendar,” said Recreational Program Coordinator Alicia Chappell. “This summer we are bringing even more fun programming to Randolph Pool and the Latonia Water Park while still offering 'Cov-tivities,' the youth meal program, and swim lessons.”  

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