ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- The brand-new pool at the Willie Galimore Center in St. Augustine is ready to open.
"It's exciting," Judith Seraphin said, "We are loving it."
Seraphin works and lives in the Lincolnville neighborhood near downtown St. Augustine.
"We have a lot of things happening but there's still a lot to be done," she said. She is also the neighborhood association president, but she never swam in the old pool.
"I kind of looked at it and just ... " she shook her head.
Swim teams often used to practice there, but the health department eventually shut down the former pool and St. Johns County closed it in 2009.
Jim Piggot with the City of St. Augustine said the county "couldn't afford to make all the adjustment and changes to the pool to get it operational again."
With no lifesaver in sight, St. Johns County gave it back to the City of St. Augustine with $400,000 last year.
In January, the old pool was demolished, and now it has crystal clear water and colorful pool-side lounge chairs. There is a child swimming area, an ADA-accessible lift chair and lap lanes.
The YMCA will operate the pool for an $110,000 annual contract.
"They not only said they would fix it," Seraphin said with, tears in her eyes, "Sorry, this is one of those emotional issues because they actually did it. They listened to what this neighborhood said."
Arleen Dennison of the YMCA said "This helps build back the sense of community and history for the neighborhood."
The Lincolnville neighborhood was recently deemed a blighted area. Now a Community Redevelopment Agency has been created, which means a special fund will be generated by the increase in property taxes in Lincolnville that will pay for more improvements there.
Riberia Street, one of the main streets in the neighborhood is also getting repairs. So a new road and a new pool and a CRA has Seraphin feeling cautiously optimistic about more improvements.
"This is a positive step," she said.
The pool opens at noon on Friday.
First Coast News