ROAN MOUNTAIN, Tenn. (WJHL) — The push from Roan Mountain community members continues after two years of asking for state funding to be re-instated to the Roan Mountain State Park swimming pool.
According to the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC), Roane Mountain is one of five state park pools that will not receive funding that originally ceased during the pandemic.
A March meeting involving the community and state officials revealed the state planned to use the funding for the pool and distribute it to other outdoor activity projects.
“It’s the gem of our community. [It’s] really just what our community needs,” said Roan Mountain Citizens Club member Ann Campbell. “It fits. It is a fit for the community of Roan Mountain.”
The pool has been in the park for around 40 years, and many in Roan Mountain said they learned to swim and grew up in its waters.
“I swam here as a teenager,” said Campbell. “I taught my children how to swim here and hope to teach my grandchildren how to swim here.”
Many shared this same sentiment while signing petitions placed in public centers and businesses by members of the Citizens Club. Those petitions amassed nearly 4,00 signatures.
“Some of the places went through sheets so fast that I was shocked,” said Roan Mountain Citizens Club member Ginger Kelley.
There are other pools within driving distance of the town, such as ones in Johnson City, Tennessee or Newland, North Carolina.
However, Citizens Club members said that sort of travel is just not possible for their poorer community.
“The people, the children that live in the mountains, they don’t have the money more than likely to buy bicycles, but they can probably find one single mother that is not working and will bring the kids down to the pool,” said Kelley.
Elementary school students showed their appreciation for their pool, creating artwork showing what it means to them to have a community pool. The Citizens Club said this is why they’re working to save the pool, for the children now and in the future.
“Our children need us,” said Kelley. “They need us to be their advocate because they’re playing. They want to have fun.”
Members of the Roan Mountain Citizens Club said they have been working with state representatives Scotty Campbell, John Holsclaw and state senator Rusty Crowe to keep their pool.
Senator Crowe said that they now need to put in a personal plea to Governor Bill Lee to find funding to keep the pool.
He said the next step if this does not work is to ask for grant funding.
“We will ask the governor or county for some form of grant funding to help find funding through next year’s budget for a pool somewhere for Roan Mountain outside of the park,” said Crowe.