A $1.2 million renovation will create a Biloxi natatorium the staff calls "like new." But the upgrades will take some sacrifice from patrons. City officials say the natatorium will close later this month for the holidays, and will not re-open until mid-May.
Each year about 20,000 people make a splash at the Biloxi Natatorium. The staff says some visitors aren't entirely happy with the condition of the facility.
Jamie Lee is the aquatic specialist.
"The showers are kind of old. The plumbing is kind of old. It's a little while for them to warm up, but it's really something we're looking at taking care of during this renovation process."
The renovation process is expected to take five months. Biloxi City officials say the time will be used to make several Hurricane Katrina repairs, including replacing the operable roof.
"The big advantage is that in the summer time to reduce the build up of heat and humidity," said Recreation Director Nathan Sullivan. "We open that up and that hot air, that warm moist air just ventilates right on up through the opening. "
In the winter months, swimmers will stay nice and warm thanks to all new deck heaters. There will be improvements inside the pool as well.
"The pool bottom itself is going to be replaced," said Sullivan. "It has a plaster finish on it, which over the years has roughened, and it's showing need for replacement. We're going to be doing that while the pool is closed. New tile lane markings and a new pool bottom."
There will also be many smaller improvements like new panels, electrical work and painting. With a little patience, the staff says people will come back to a better Natatorium in 2008 than they left in 2007.
"It will be pretty much a brand new facility," Lee said. "An operable roof, a brand new pool bottom, the water will look that much more clear. It will be really a great enhancement for the facility."
While the natatorium is closed, the Biloxi recreation department is encouraging people to use the Donal Snyder Community Center. Recreation Director Nathan Sullivan says plans are to extend the hours at that pool.