Pool closed, first by the pandemic and then renovation works
By Nick Theodoulou
Ah, summer in Nicosia – Cyprus’ only city without a beach. There’s nothing quite like the cool breeze in the evening, but the days on end of over 40C can be brutal.
For many, the cool waters of the Nicosia municipal pool were a welcome respite from the sweltering sun as they sizzled at home, and one of the few outdoor activities available.
Indeed, since 1989 the municipal pool became a second home to children – and their parents – during the endless summer holidays.
But many irked residents have found that solace from the sun absent since 2020, with the municipal pool either entirely shut some summers or partially shuttered during others – without a full season of it being open since 2019.
First came the pandemic and now the ongoing €6.5 million overhaul works mean it’s again out of bounds. The Sunday Mail understands the renovation works are likely to take another year, at least.
But the municipality has vowed that the pool’s complete overhaul will mark a “historic development for the city”.
To be sure, the municipality told the Sunday Mail that the overhaul sets out for a new, heated municipal pool with updated dimensions (33.38x25x1-2m), a new children’s pool, and the removal of the diving pool and the creation of a new heated training pool (25x15x2m).
But the timing of the works has led many to question what the line of thinking was over at the municipality.
“You had two years to get the work done when the pool was closed during the pandemic period,” many say.
With works likely to take another year to complete, it means that from 2020 until 2024 there won’t have been a full municipal pool season available to hot and sweaty Nicosians.
In its defence of the awkward timing, the municipality offered that such major works could not have been whipped up on the spot: there’s a process for drawing up tenders, finding bidders, awarding contracts and so on. That all takes time.
In short, they claim that the windows of opportunity offered between the pool being closed due to various levels of Covid-19 restrictions were not suitable. Add on to that the time when no one, even most workers, could leave their neighbourhood.
But that’s not reassuring for the thousands who now feel that they are being denied an essential summer service.
Even so, the municipality hopes the new pool will cause a splash – and not just for raucous teens cannonballing into the deep end.
The municipality also points out that the pool complex includes athletic training facilities – in a separate pool area – which hosts 80 per cent of the district’s competitive swimming and sports activities.
The pool caters for half of all Cyprus’ professional swimmers.
“The total reconstruction of the swimming pool’s facilities was absolutely imperative as the infrastructure was built in the 1980s and has not been seriously upgraded since then,” the municipality explained.
One then wonders, however, that since the works were imperative then why did the municipality not jump at the opportunity to carry them out while the Covid-19 restrictions were in place?
The municipality emphasised that the overhaul of the municipal pool and Olympic pool will lead to the creation of the Nicosia Swimming Centre which will have the most swimming lanes in the country.
So, is the long wait worth it?
The total overhaul means there will be a new central building which is to include showers, changing rooms (with disability access), a medical office, a doping control area and even a gym.
Powering the swimming centre will be the new engine rooms with energy-upgraded electromechanical installations.
Sounds fancy – and expensive, with a price tag of €6.5m, not including VAT although the contract does cover ten years of maintenance.
There are certainly high expectations for such an expensive overhaul.
And while it’s certain to boast a shinier look than its former iteration, many will look back fondly on the charm of the old pool which created so many lasting memories.
Perhaps most notably in the main “family” pool which rocked an ear-splitting depth of 3.8 metres at the deep end.
Indeed, the municipality describes the old pool as “an oasis in the town centre… situated in an area planted with towering eucalyptus trees. Inside, the main swimming pool and the three smaller pools for children, in conjunction with the green grass, imposing palm trees, walnut trees and colourful bougainvillea, create the ideal setting for relaxation and fun”.
Here’s to hoping that the new centre lives up to that ethos.