The University of Georgia reopened Legion Pool last month after shuttering it for two summers, but many pool-goers are unhappy that UGA is no longer offering season passes, which will make visiting the pool quite expensive for families.
$100 passes have been eliminated for now because Legion Pool is expected to be closed periodically for maintenance this year, possibly with frequent interruptions due to having been closed for the past two years, according to a statement from spokesman Rod Guajardo. For faculty and staff—among whom the pool is a popular summertime cooling-off spot—that means each visit will cost $5, plus $4 per child and $6 per guest, running a family of four about $25 with parking. “We will continue to review our processes going forward and evaluate for future seasons,” Guajardo said.
Athens has less expensive swimming options, including public pools with $1 admission at Bishop, Heard, Lay, Rocksprings and Memorial parks, as well as members-only pools at the YMCA and in neighborhoods like Cedar Creek and Hampton Heights. But for many of Legion Pool’s fans, it’s more than just a pool.
“I have been going to Legion since my girls were little,” one faculty member commented on a social media post about the pool. “The cost has continued to climb, but after 15 years this is more than a pool, but a community. There are people I look forward to seeing every summer that I don’t see the rest of the year. I have built dear, lasting friendships, as have my daughters. The community is important to me. I wish the community aspect was important to those who run the show.”
UGA closed Legion Pool during the pandemic in 2020 and kept it closed in 2021—even after scientific consensus emerged that socially distanced outdoor activities were quite safe and other local pools reopened—leading to speculation that the over 80-year-old pool might shut down permanently. Some pool users remain concerned that the university, having gotten rid of passes, will point to low attendance as justification for demolishing the pool.
Former president Michael Adams threatened to do just that in 2012, leading to a community outcry. With the aging pool leaking thousands of gallons of water and new buildings like Bolton Dining Commons and Correll Hall under construction around it, Adams proposed closing Legion Pool and opening a more student-oriented pool near Lake Herrick. Eventually, he backed down.
“There are no discussions regarding closing Legion Pool,” Guajardo said.
Designed by Athens architect C. Wilmer Heery during the Great Depression, the American Legion opened the pool in 1936. The City of Athens later operated it until 1952, when UGA bought the pool and nearby Legion Field, with the pool held in trust for the citizens of Athens.
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