Pool Party

Madison city officials, others
kick off Crystal Beach rehab project

The project will make the pavilion ADA accessible

(November 2021) – The Crystal Beach Pavilion and swimming complex has been a mainstay of the Madison, Ind., community and surrounding counties since the 1930s. The pool and pavilion are at the heart of the downtown and sit right on Vaughn Drive along the Ohio River. In recent years, the pavilion and pool have understandably aged. But the potential for the complex to once again rise up as a gem in the rough has not gone unnoticed by city officials.
That potential was included as part of the city’s Stellar Designation program when Madison was named an Indiana Stellar community in 2017. The designation created funding opportunities to make significant improvements on several fronts, and Crystal Beach was identified as one of the major projects.
After a $2 million Community Development Block Grant was secured back in January for the project from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs, the city of Madison kicked in $200,000 for a $2.7 million makeover of the swimming complex and pavilion. The remaining money needed for the project was provided from the Madison Redevelopment Commission, according to Nicole Schell, Director of Planning for the city and who also leads this project and other Stellar initiatives.
On Oct. 25, city officials kicked off its long-awaited Crystal Beach Pool and Pavilion Rehabilitation Project with a groundbreaking ceremony at the pavilion entrance.

Crystal Beach

Photo by Don Ward

A rain storm didn’t stop Madison, Ind., Mayor Bob Courtney (second from left) from holding a groundbreaking ceremony Oct. 25 for the start of renovations of Crystal Beach Pool and Pavilion. He was joined (from left) by Nicole Schell, Madison’s Director of Planning, Aaron Daley of KPFF and project lead of the engineering team, Ed Krebs, representing architectural firm K. Norman Berry Associates, and Jeff Poole, vice president of Poole Group Inc.

Madison Mayor Bob Courtney joined several city employees and representatives of various construction companies involved in the project for the ceremony. Several local residents also attended, many of them lifelong users of the swimming complex.
“Crystal Beach started hosting families, kids and people visiting Madison over 80 years ago, so there are many stories and memories here,” Courtney said. “It has meant so much to our community, and that’s why it’s so important that we invest so it will still be here for future generations.”
Courtney recalled working as a lifeguard at the pool as a youth. He also took swim lessons there and was a member of the Boys Club, which at that time had its home on the second floor of the pavilion. The second floor over the years also served as a roller rink, home for the Jaycees and as the location of the first city parks department office.
Schell provided an overview of the scope of the renovations to pool house, concession stands, pool deck, liner and fencing. One of the main goals of the project is to make the pavilion ADA accessible, Schell said.
“This will be a complete makeover of this facility, and we are very excited to get started,” she said.
Crystal Beach was built in 1938 for $100,000 as part of the Works Progress Administration program as part of then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s attempt to provide jobs during the Great Depression.
Approximately 8.5 million people were employed from 1935-1943 to complete public infrastructure projects such as schools, hospitals, bridges, airfields, roads, storm drains and sewers.  
“The WPA also built many community pools like Crystal Beach during that time. One of the goals of this project was to extend the use of the facility beyond the normal summer season,” said Ed Curtin, owner of CWC Latitudes LLC in Seymour, Ind. His company is a subcontractor on the project.

Crystal Beach pool

Photo by Don Ward

Crystal Beach in downtown Madison, Ind., has been a focal point for the community since the 1930s. A rehabilitation project under way now will totally renovate the pool, pavilion and add a catering kitchen on the second floor.

That goal will be accomplished by adding heating to the first floor. Access to the restrooms will be secured so that they can be used during spring and fall festivals, even though the pool is not open.
In addition, the large second floor is being upgraded with new restrooms, a warming kitchen for catering, and new decking so that the open space of approximately 2,900 square feet will be available for event rental. The second floor will have both heating and air conditioning.
Additional details about the project scope include modifications to improve accessibility. The renovations to the pool house will convert the main hallway to a ramp. This will eliminate a step down to the pool deck. Renovations and upgrades to the restrooms and locker rooms will also enhance accessibility. An elevator is being added to improve access to the second floor.
Courtney said the rehabilitation also extends to the basketball courts and restrooms, which serve patrons at the next door Kiwanis Field and the river walk. “It’s such a central part of our community.”
Courtney said the city plans to hold a grand opening event in spring 2022 when the rehabilitation project is completed. “We hope to open up in time for the summer swim season,” he said.

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