MORRISTOWN, Tenn. — In December 2021, Tennessee State Parks announced that swimming pools at 11 different state parks would be closed. One of them was a beloved pool in Panther Creek State Park, in Hamblen County.
State officials said it would cost around $580,000 to repair the pool — more than what officials said was economically feasible. They also said that visitation was decreasing at the pool before the COVID-19 pandemic caused it to be closed for the last few seasons. It was last open in 2019.
Instead of repairing the pool, the state said they would distribute $400,000 so counties could invest in other, year-round outdoor activity spaces.
"Local officials, supporters of the park, friends of Panther Creek Park were not given any opportunity to give input on the decision to close the pool," said Bill Brittain, the mayor of Hamblen County. "The announcement was made, and that's when we first found out about it."
He said that they wanted an opportunity for supporters of the park to give input during Wednesday's meeting, while still understanding that the state has the authority over the final decision.
However, Brittain said he was working with other leaders to introduce a joint resolution to the legislature urging them to reverse their decision, keeping the pool open.
"We wish they would reverse their decision and not close the pool, and let's have some discussions about some other options about how we can keep the pool open," he said.
The resolution is expected to be sent out in the next few weeks, he said. Brittain said he was hoping to see a discussion about how the pool could be kept open for longer periods of time, instead of only 10 weeks out of the year and closing in early August.
He said he wanted to talk about increasing the pool's marketing and expanding swimming lessons in the area.
The state also created an online form people can fill out to give suggestions on other outdoor activities they can invest in.