By John Schaffner
editor@reporternewspapers.net

Six years ago, a group of neighbors in the Chastain Park area came to the rescue of an old and deteriorating swimming pool facility, which the city of Atlanta was ready to close and demolish, and rallied to keep the community pool open.

Located at West Wieuca Road in Chastain Park, it has become the favorite swimming hole in north Atlanta.

Today, they are again marshaling the neighborhood forces, as well as those at Atlanta City Hall, to raise $15 to $20 million to build a new Chastain Aquatic Center—a premier amenity for Buckhead and Atlanta.

But before putting money into mortar, they want the public’s opinion of what the new Aquatic Center should be. In the first 18 days the survey was online, 1,000 people answered the survey.

With that focus on the future, Jim King, who heads up the Chastain Park Athletic Club (CPAC) board, and Robert (Pete) Higgins, revered swimming coach at the Westminster Schools, spoke to the Buckhead Business Association’s Oct. 25 breakfast meeting at Anthony’s restaurant with hopes of garnering support for their mission. And they are seeking to motivate people to take their online survey.

The Chastain Park Athletic Club has just completed its sixth season of managing the Chastain Park Pool, which was built in 1942. King pronounced that it was a great summer, highlighted by over 22,500 visitors from youth camps, swim lessons, Chastain neighborhood gatherings and the Tidal Waves Swim Team.

The swim season over, King now has turned his attention toward coalition building and fund raising for the Aquatic Center. And, he is trying to drum up people to go online and participate in the survey CPAC is conducting to discover just what the residents and facility users want the Aquatic Center to become.

On July 4th, 2002, the Chastain Park Pool re-opened “after we saved it from demolition,” King explained. It became the home of the North Atlanta Swim Association, a 501(c)(3) charitable nonprofit organization, which is now The Chastain Park Athletic Club.

“We were successful in forming a public/private partnership with the city of Atlanta, allowing us to maintain and operate the facility, while furthering our mission of promoting aquatics, sports, and safety through outreach, while revitalizing the Chastain Park Pool,” King explained.

He recounted that in 2003 the organization created the Chastain Park Tidal Waves Swim Team. “Just as important,” King tells people, “our community pool is now clean, refreshing, and available to the public.”

“It was condemned and set to be demolished but we were able to show the city how to make it operational,” said Jim King, who helped lead the effort. “But the [neighborhood] civic association didn’t want to run it, so we started a charitable nonprofit, the North Atlanta Swim Association, to operate it for the city.”

More than 350 families have bought memberships in the association. The support has been so strong that the association board began planning for a bigger and better pool to replace the old one.

With private grants and money from the city’s Parks Department, they came up with specifications for an indoor-outdoor complex that recently has met with approval from the civic association, Neighborhood Planning Unit A and the city.

The design of the new pool complex, called the Chastain Park Athletic Club, includes demolishing the existing facility. In its place will be a 50-meter indoor pool; an outdoor pool with a diving well; a zero-entry kiddie pool with a slide; training and locker rooms; an office; concessions area; classrooms; and an event area that can be rented to defray operating expenses. The association has committed to the city that the new facility will be a green project.

The group currently is seeking lead donors to get the fund-raising effort under way. Details are online at www.chastainparkac.org.

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