City pool gets variance

Published 9:56 am Wednesday, May 15, 2024

The Oxford Planning Commission this week approved a variance request from the city’s landscaping ordinance for the new city pool.

The pool is about 50 years old and in 2022, the Board of Aldermen staff to explore long-term options for the pool after the city was spendings hundreds of thousands of dollars annually to keep patching it up. The decision was made to completely replace the old pool within the same footprint as the existing pool. 

The current concession building and bathrooms will be demolished and a new 1,975-square-foot pool building with a veranda and new bathrooms. There will be new decking, fencing and a slide.

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However, the renovations will require the pool to remain closed this summer with it reopening in May 2025.

Mark Levy, special project director for the city, told the Commission Monday that the city landscaping codes required three required frontage trees along Washington Avenue, a parking lot tree and evergreen shrubs in front of the retaining wall that exceeds 6 feet in height. 

While the plans for the pool do include a robust landscaping package – mostly on the backside of the pool area – due to several constraints in working with the existing site, Levy said the required elements are not able to be incorporated by the design team. 

Levy said there is very little space – about 20 inches – between the road and the sidewalk and that planting large trees too close to the pool could cause issues as the tree canopy grows over the pool.

The parking lot will only have six spaces with three being accessible parking spaces. Most of the available parking will be at the Stone Center, across the street from the pool. 

“We are planting more trees than we currently have – better trees,” Levy said. 

Construction plans will be bid in May with construction slated to begin in June.

The commission granted the variance unanimously.