Roanoke residents help finalize location for new Washington Park Pool

Published: May. 18, 2023 at 11:56 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - The Washington Park Pool has been a staple in the northwest community for almost 50 years. Summer 2022 saw the pool close as Roanoke’s Parks and Recreation Department works to build a brand new pool.

“Our total project budget for this is $3.25 million, that is total project. So that includes the work that we’ve already done to demolish the existing pool, and then the amount that will be needed to design and then build the new pool plus any supporting entity,” said Michael Clark, director of Roanoke Parks and Recreation.

More than 50 residents came out to hear results of a 2022 survey of what they’d like to see. At the meeting, Clark shared that during the demolition process of the old pool, challenges arose.

“As we were going through that demolition process, we did a handful of test bores where they would drill down into the ground to detect whether or not there was landfill material there. And we picked a handful of different places in the upper part of the park. And unfortunately, everywhere that we did a test except for where the football field is now, showed signs of landfill material and in some cases it was very close to the surface,” said Clark.

This led Clark and his team to explore options of where a pool could be built.

“The place we landed on was on the corner of the park entry and Orange Avenue. And as a result, to get the size facility, we need to go where the Evans house is now, which would require tearing down the Evans House,” said Clark.

Many of the residents at the meeting are a part of the northwest community, sharing the history the Evans House has had in the area.

“This is history, it needs to remain history, my opinion, no one else’s, mine, and restored because it can be done. My other question is why was this park so neglected until now we start discussing putting a pool in it. If you drive by Washington Park it’s the most disgraceful looking thing I’ve ever seen in my life,” said Roanoke resident Carolyn Hubbard.

Despite that history, the majority in attendance feel if this is where a pool needs to go, it’s for the greater good.

”If you haven’t visited Washington Park in the summer and seen the kids come over there and use the facility, they need the pool in Washington Park more than they need to memorialize a house, believe me,” said Roanoke resident Darnell Wood.

“The individuals who lived in that house, if they were here today, I think if we asked them, keep this house as history or have a pool for these kids over the summertime, they would pick the pool. With some type of consolation of preservation,” said Roanoke resident Ryan Bell.

That’s exactly what residents chose to do.

This decision means the Evans House will be demolished, but Parks and Rec is committed to memorializing it. The $3.25 million project will now begin with making sure it is environmentally safe to build there, and then a design will be made from community survey responses.

The more-than-1,500 survey responses show residents would like to see a lazy river and concessions be prioritized, along with a bigger slide, splash features and lap lanes.

The hope is that the pool will be able to open and operate for the 2024 summer season, but that’s not set in stone and will depend on design and construction plans.