Evaluation coming quickly for outside pool at East Waco group middle

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The city’s plan to convert the former Doris Miller YMCA into a new community center is moving forward, and prospects for the facility’s outdoor pool will soon be reevaluated.

The former Y’s indoor pool is functional, although the building that houses it has a leaky roof and the covered outdoor walkway that leads to it may be reconfigured, Waco Parks and Recreation Director Jonathan Cook said. The facility, which includes the indoor pool, is on track to inherit some community center programs from the Bledsoe-Miller Community Center this summer, although plans for work outside the building, including work on the outdoor pool, are still taking shape.

“We could work on some of the safety features and update it regulatory when it checks out…or we can try to expand the footprint,” Cook said of the outdoor pool.

He said consultants from KAI, the company that evaluates the facility, will come to Waco on Jan. 17 to assess the pool’s condition and safety.

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He said a “no depth” entrance with a sloping, beach-like entrance is considered safer than the steps leading down into the water where the pool is currently located. The pool could also be converted into a water playground, although the ‘tumble buckets’ already above the pool don’t work.

“We’re looking for an opportunity for immediate fixes, not just for the pool,” Cook said.

Leaks in the roof of the main building have been mostly repaired, but the roof over the pool still needs repairs and the building’s garage doors need replacing, he said. The outdoor pool needs a new pump system and could be completely rebuilt according to the statement made by the aquarium consultants from KAI.

“When you’re a community center for 15 years, there’s a lot of wear and tear,” Cook said.

Right now the inside of the building is covered in dusty plastic and smells of paint and primer. Exercise equipment left over from the building’s YMCA days remains inside under protective drapes.

New epoxy floors have yet to be poured but the original tiles have been removed. Gray and white paint is gradually replacing the yellow and white wall paint the building featured when the city bought it from the YMCA of Central Texas in 2021 for $2.7 million. The interior renovations will cost about $2 million. Contemplated outdoor renovations, including refurbishment of the outdoor pool, new play equipment and redesigned ball fields, would cost an additional $2.5 million.

The wooden floor of the gym is in good condition but needs to be sanded and repainted.

Six months ago, contractors and fixtures department workers cleared out equipment inside and removed overgrown vegetation outside before renovations began, Cook said.

“It’s been a really deep clean… to get to this point where we’re creating our own little fixer upper,” he said.

The ball fields and playground outside the building are still open to the public. Cook said the parks department intends to begin conducting summer camps at the new community center this year and to move programs from the Bledsoe Miller Community Center, which will become a science, technology, engineering, arts and math center.

The former Y’s heating and air conditioning system has been partially replaced, but several parts are still on back order.

Cook said the building’s offices and electrical wiring needed updating, and the entire building needed updated security cameras and locks.

He said programming at the new community center will be geared toward children, but the pools mean the parks department could hold swimming classes for seniors. He said “the sky’s the limit” because the 30,000-square-foot building is so big and has so many features.

“What this building allows for is a little bit different, sort of a recreational and athletic component with the pools, the soccer field, the football field, the baseball field. … We’re going to do a lot of sporting activities,” Cook said.