After remaining unused for five years, the pool at the Kentucky School for the Deaf could be seeing new life, if the KSD Charitable Foundation has its way.
The foundation, which focuses on helping the students at the school, is trying to raise funds to update and reopen the pool, which closed in 2008 and has suffered a series of unfortunate events on the way to being repaired.
Current estimates on the amount needed to make the pool swimmable again are $150,000 and the foundation has created the Fill It Up fund in hopes bringing back the splash to KSD’s campus. At Friday’s Pancake and Sausage Day fundraiser for the school, the foundation set up a kiddie pool, offering people the opportunity to pledge their donations and other fundraisers are being planned.
For pop culture fans, Stephen Mao of the Mao Gallery in New York has donated a limited edition print of the Rolling Stones, which will be auctioned off via silent auction. The photograph was taken by Mao when he worked for the Associated Press in Los Angeles and will be available for viewing at the Maple Tree Gallery later this month. The gallery will mat and shrink wrap the print before hanging.
KSD students are also getting involved in the efforts, making bracelets which will be sold with proceeds going to the Fill It Up fund. During recent meetings, foundation members have thrown around various other ideas for fundraising, including allowing booths to set up on the school lawn during the Kentucky State BBQ Festival in Danville and possibly selling banner space in the pool to businesses, as found in area high school gymnasiums.
The foundation is also seeking grants, said spokeswoman Joann Hamm.
The pool was closed after the passage of the federal Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act, named after the grandson of former secretary of State James A. Baker.
The youngster died at the age of 7 after he was sucked to the bottom of a spa by the drain. A similar incident happened in Lexington, just months before the regulation requiring additional safety measures went into effect.
Unlike those pools, the drain and filtration system at KSD relied heavily on gravity, according to Bill Melton, who became the school’s athletics director the year after the pool opened in 1975 and was the campus manager at the time of the closure. He is now a member of the foundation.
Melton explained that there were other issues discovered following the closure. Finding adequate drain covers proved to be the first problem, as the size needed for the pool’s drains weren’t being manufactured at the time.
The school also had to replace other parts of the system, including the sump, which collects drained water before it is pumped out to be filtered or discarded. To do so, they needed to use jackhammers to dig into the concrete around the drains, he said. That jackhammering, however, created another set of problems: Leaks were discovered in cast iron pipe system.
More problems also surfaced. Melton explained that after being left empty for so long, things began to “dry out, rust up and seize up.” The caulking around the observation windows was one casualty of the long layoff, he said.
Hamm said they have not yet established a timeline for reopening the pool, suggesting that it will depend on fundraising.
“When we have the money, we will do it,” she said.
Getting the pool opened is a priority for the foundation, not only for KSD students to enjoy, but for the community as well. At one time, both Boyle County and Danville schools swim teams used the pool for practices, as well as the Boy Scouts, according to Melton. It was also rented out to community organizations and groups. The pool, once repaired, will again be open to community, Hamm said.
“It was a great thing for the kids,” Melton said. “It was well-used.”