After five decades of welcoming thousands of Juneau residents to wade in its water, the downtown Augustus Brown Pool is set to get a makeover — but not without celebrating its 50th birthday first.
The City and Borough of Juneau-owned pool is planned to close on April 3 of this year and will remain closed until early 2024 to undergo $8 million in renovations including upgrades to the locker and changing rooms, resurfacing the leisure pool and bringing its electrical systems up to code.
Juneau voters approved $5 million in funding for the renovations back in 2017 in a ballot proposition which is paired with an additional $3 million Assembly allocation in 2021. The renovations were originally planned for the summer of 2020, however, due to COVID-19, the project was delayed until now.
Terra Patterson, aquatics manager, said she’s excited to see the pool get its needed upgrades and to welcome the community for a few events before closure, including a dog day and a 50th birthday celebration.
“For me, it’s definitely a piece of Juneau history — it’s touched so many people’s lives,” she said. “We’re trying to keep the facility up and running because it’s been such an important part of so many people’s lives and it’s something we want to continue offering for hopefully another 50 years.”
With the closure, pool members will be able to transfer their membership to the Dimond Park Aquatic Center in the Mendenhall Valley, which plans to expand its hours and programs during the summer in anticipation of the influx of swimmers transitioning to the pool.
Patterson said group users like the Glacier Swim Club and Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé swim and dive team will have to move practices during the renovations, which she said could cause a bit of congestion, but noted pool staff plans to do what they can to make the transition run smoothly.
“Obviously, it’s going to be a little less pool space for everybody but we are trying our best to work with other groups who are using the pool,” she said. “The downtown pool has a lot of patronage from just individual people who live in the area too, and I think that’s the biggest group to be displaced during the construction.”
Along with having its “guts” upgrades, Patterson said she is most excited about a new art project that will be featured in the building following the renovation. The project plans to incorporate existing artwork tiles in the locker rooms that were created by Juneau second and third graders in 1999 and pair it alongside new artwork created by current youth swimmers.
Starting Feb. 24 through March 31, Patterson said youth swimmers and artists are invited to participate in creating their own artwork tiles, and a selection of them will be included in the new art project. Any child that submits a piece will be given a free admission pass and be entered into a drawing on April 1 for a one-month youth swim pass as well.
“It’s such a great old building that has so much character and we’re looking forward to enhancing that,” she said.
• Contact reporter Clarise Larson at firstname.lastname@example.org or (651)-528-1807. Follow her on Twitter at @clariselarson.