PTC Council approves buying new Kedron pool bubble

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Peachtree City will get a new “bubble” over the Kedron pools after all, but it will be a costly venture.

The total cost, approved unanimously by the City Council Thursday night, will come out to about $454,000, which the city intends to finance over a 10-year period at a cost of about $55,000 a year.

The project is some $204,000 over initial estimates, as the only bid received was $96,000 above the initial estimate. Also, it has been determined that the underground anchoring system must be replaced at a cost of $108,000.

The bubble will be in place no later than November 1, said Director of Public Services Mark Caspar.

The bubble structure is necessary to keep the pools open after summer ends. It includes a pressurized air return system that is designed to keep the bubble inflated.

In a letter dated the day of the council meeting, the company that will build the custom bubble and air exchange system indicated that using the existing bubble would pose a safety hazard.

“Tears in the fabric, which you have indicated have occurred upon several occasions in the past two seasons, could happen at any time, and the fabric may now be too old to repair,” wrote Arizon Field Services Manager Tim Welker.

That letter put the city on notice of a potential liability, noted councilman Eric Imker.

In addition to open swim times for the public, including the hosting of birthday parties and the like, the pools are also used out-of-season by high school and amateur swimming teams, all of whom recently began paying higher pool usage fees.

Councilmember Vanessa Fleisch said she thought the project was worthwhile.

“At a time when we are having declining property values I think it sends the wrong message to not maintain a facility and amenity that we already have, and yet it is a lot more than we had ever anticipated but I think it’s worth doing,” Fleisch said.

It was noted that council received a high volume of email in support of the bubble expenditure.

Councilmember Kim Learnard noted that the bubble was approved on a citizen referendum years ago, and although she was “shocked” by the cost, she felt the facility was worth saving.

Councilmember Eric Imker noted that the bubble has been in the city’s budget for at least a half-dozen previous years with a $250,000 price tag and financing over five years projected between $60,000 and $70,000.

“It’s already there in our budget plans,” Imker said.

Councilmember Doug Sturbaum said his main concern was the total cost.

Mayor Don Haddix, who begrudgingly acquiesced to voting in favor of the project, said paying for the project was his “big issue.”

Haddix said he also wanted to hold off on the project so he could use the bubble as a negotiating tool in the upcoming sales tax distribution negotiations with the county.