Oyster Creek Pool closing ruffles some feathers

ENGLEWOOD — The closing of Englewood’s only public swimming pool for most of February has upset some seasonal residents in the community.

The Oyster Creek Pool at Ann Dever Memorial Regional Park on 6791 San Casa Drive will be shut down from Feb. 4-25 for repairs including replacing broken tiles and a failed expansion joint, according to the Charlotte County Community Services Department.

Some of the most vocal critics hail from Michigan. There are at least 42 names signed on a petition circulated in an effort to postpone the maintenance.

“We realize the pool needs work, but we think it’s inappropriate for the time at the peak of the season for snowbirds,” said Jack Cooke, an Englewood resident for six months of the year. “There’s nothing catastrophic. It’s just maintenance.”

Linda Donbar lives in Englewood for two months a year.

“They’re closing it for half the time we’re here,” Donbar said. “I think it’s wrong when people are spending money to come down for this. They don’t prorate (user fees), but you have to pay for the whole time.”

Many seasonal residents at the pool say it’s a financial mistake and the repairs should be made in April, when traffic is low and the repairs would be completed in time for summer when activity increases.

“Routine inspections, replacing some tiles and some caulking are all routine things that could be done later on in April or May when the tourists go home,” said Susan Campbell, a seasonal Englewood resident. “Many people from out of state buy memberships at the pool and depend on it in January, February and March. They use it not just for the enjoyment and their visiting families, but for physical therapy.”

Marc Solomon, aquatics supervisor for Charlotte County, said time is of the essence when it comes to dealing with the problems the pool is facing, and some include safety.

“One of the things we had to deal with are the broken tiles,” Solomon said. “It’s dangerous when tiles are broken because they can be as sharp as broken glass.”

A second matter involves replacing a failing expansion joint.

“Water is getting under the concrete deck,” he said. “We think it may be washing away the support in theory since water is getting into it. We won’t know for sure until we check it out and we can’t do that with people in the pool. We also have to replace portions of the concrete deck.”

Solomon said he hopes the water aerobics participants are as understanding as the Englewood branch of the Charlotte County swimming team, which also uses the pool.

“I hope the residents, regular and seasonal, understand that the county is protecting a multi-million dollar investment,” he said.

Pool patrons can visit public pools at the South County Regional Park at 670 Cooper St., Punta Gorda; or the Port Charlotte Beach Pool at 4500 Harbor Blvd., Solomon said.

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About Tom

Tom Chang is a freelance journalist with a background in multimedia journalism and web publishing. He is currently pursuing his Masters in Journalism and Media Studies from the University of South Florida St.Petersburg. He graduated in 2004 with a Bachelors Degree in Mass Communications at USF Tampa. Tom's interests include a little bit of everything from entertainment to sports. He also wishes to delve into creative writing writing sci-fi/fantasy stories. Tom was recently the Online Editor for USF St. Petersburg's the Crow's Nest, he joined the staff in January 2010 where he started freelance writing, photographing, copy editing and later became a staff writer. Tom’s freelance experience in journalism amassed a wide range of companies including Creative Loafing, The Focus Magazine, Lutz News, Examiner.com, and Tampa Tribune.
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