‘Losing an old friend’

By Nicky Hughes,

Published:

It is almost like losing an old friend, so say many people about the impending closure of the swimming pool at Juniper Hill Park.

After decades of service to the people of Frankfort and their visitors, this is the last season of operation for the pool. After it shuts down on Aug. 3, demolition will begin to make way for the new Juniper Hill Family Aquatic Center. The new facility will begin its service to the community in the summer of 2015.

But the old pool is not going away quietly. Pool manager Larry Montgomery and his 77-person staff are getting all the use they can out of the facility – just as they and their predecessors have for years. As Co-Director of the City of Frankfort’s Department of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Sites Jim Parrish said, “They’ve got the doggone thing running 6:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. A lot goes on other than general admissions.” 

Montgomery agrees as he outlines the pool’s busy schedule. The pool’s days usually begin with early morning swim team practice sessions every weekday. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays see senior water aerobics and public swimming lessons during the late mornings. 

Groups of 45-50 swimmers from the Stewart Home also come three days a week. Local day care centers – Peaks Mill, Collins Lane, Second Street, South Frankfort, Capital Day, YMCA, and others – make heavy use of the facility. 

The pool’s 28 lifeguards, concessioners and maintenance workers must also look after the everyday crowd of walk-ins. About 250 people pay the standard $3 admission fee every day – weather permitting.

Although the pool “closes” at 5:30 p.m., its day is seldom over then.  That’s when private parties start to show up – groups from Kentucky State University, local churches, the Youth Football League, all sorts of folks from all across the community. Slots for these parties are “booked constantly,” according to staffer Mary Beth Cunningham. And then there are special events such as Water Safety Day, during which Frankfort Fire and Emergency Medical Services personnel teach about safe use of nearby rivers, creeks, and other bodies of water.

Expectations are high for the new Family Aquatic Center. Its modern and diverse facilities will offer opportunities for more varied water-related activities with even greater public appeal than that enjoyed by the old pool.  The general admission cost will go up a bit from the current $3 ticket, but Montgomery promises that it will be “reasonable compared to what is charged by facilities in neighboring communities.”

The Juniper Hill Pool will go to the dogs, literally, on its very last day of operation – Aug. 3. In cooperation with Life House, the pool will host Dog Swim. Canine swimmers will be welcome to take the plunge – after the pool’s final Health Department inspection.  

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