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South Miami pool delayed again

Those who have waited years for a community pool in South Miami may have to wait even longer. The city is seeking an extension to break ground on the pool, which has been in the works for decades.

Construction will be funded largely by a $1.2 million grant from the county, provided the city can meet the county’s deadline to use the money. The city was given until Sunday by the county to start construction, or else the county’s department of Public Housing and Community Development threatened to recommend to county commissioners the “recapturing of the project funds for reallocation to another activity.”

City Manager Steven Alexander said building the pool, including construction plans and permit approval, would take more time than the June 30 deadline allowed. Alexander said the new plan is for construction to begin in January 2014 and wrap up that August.

The pool, which will have a lap pool and a “splash pad” for children, would be open for 10 weeks during the summer.

Alexander sent a letter Monday to Gregg Fortner, executive director of Public Housing and Community Development, seeking a 15-month extension until Sept. 30, 2014. The letter states the city has made “substantial progress towards completion of the Murray Park Community Pool project,” noting the commission’s approval of schematic design plans.

Mayor Phil Stoddard thinks the county is likely to approve the extension, noting that Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez was very eager to see the pool completed and that he seems very supportive.

When asked about the delay, Stoddard replied, “It takes the time it takes, but we’ve been moving actually quite quickly on it. Nobody’s messing around at this point.”

Parks and recreation board member Dick Ward – who has been trying to get the pool built since 1973 — said he still has hope the city will be able to get the extension.

“I personally think that there’s really no reason to deny the extension,” Ward said. “I don’t think it’s going to benefit the county to deny the extension.”

A spokesperson for the county said the extension is still under review.

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