Community pool falls victim to growth, old age

By Justin Boron

A layer of moss floats atop the six inches of water that remain in the Bonanza neighborhood public pool as the splashes of summer withdraw into hibernation for the fall.

For almost 40 years, the pool's summer activity has descended below the green moss for winter, re-surfacing with the turn of each spring.

However, summer's playful manifestations will likely remain dormant when spring returns next year.

The Bonanza pool on Flicker Road was drained for the last time in August. It will be filled again, but not with the rejuvenating water that signified the onset of spring's vitality.

Instead, concrete will likely fill the hollowed-out plaster bowl in south Clayton, covering generations of memories for Holly Holcomb, who has watched the pool's activity fluctuate through the seasons since she was a two years old.

"The pool has been there since I moved here in 1967," she said. "About eight of us used to go every single day . . . It was a great way to keep us out of trouble."

The county commission discussed the pool's permanent closing Tuesday, prompted by increasing maintenance costs.

"Its just old and it needs to be either redone or closed," said Crandle Bray, the county commission chairman.

"Its just not practical to re-do it," he said.

The construction of new aquatic center, which broke ground Tuesday, also played a role in the decision to close the pool, he said.

Most recently, the pool has served as a place for swimming lessons, and little else, said Mark Ballard the assistant director of Clayton County parks and recreation.

But Holcomb remembers when the pool was the neighborhood's social cornerstone, where children paid 25 cents for a day's worth of fun, and smoke from block party barbecues dissipated into the summer humidity.

That was a time before the wave of growth had washed over the metro area bringing commuters and transplants that had little interest in neighborhood relations, she said.

The pool's decline has worked as a barometer for the suburban growth in the county, Holcomb said. With each new home that was built, the pool's significance seemed to mean less to neighborhood relationships.

"There's very few people left from the old days," she said. "We used to have block parties at the pool. Now, you're lucky if your neighbor even speaks to you."

Even Holcomb concedes that the pool is ready for the concrete blanket that will fill the hole full of her memories.

Pointing to the pool in her backyard, she articulates the pool's diminished utility for her.

"I've got my own pool now," she said.