GAFFNEY, S.C. (WSPA) – Gaffney’s once-popular community pool is scheduled to reopen more than a decade after it shut down in 2011. The City of Gaffney scheduled a ribbon-cutting ceremony for May 27.

“This was a fight for our children,” Former District Three Councilwoman Monita Dawkins said. “Some of our children have never been to a pool.”

Dawkins has been a proponent for revamping the Irene Pool for years. 7NEWS previously reported on the push to reopen the pool and the drama surrounding the effort.

“What I said when I was out knocking on doors and begging for help was we may have the next Michael Phelps here and not even realize it,” Dawkins said. “I think it’s going to serve many purposes: swimming lessons, helping with social skills, swimming exercises all the muscles in your body.”

Former Gaffney District Two Councilwoman Steph Smith told 7NEWS she hopes the pool will make Cherokee County safer by providing residents a place to learn to swim.

“Drowning is actually the leading cause for children 1 to 4 on death,” she said, citing CDC data. “For children aged 5 to 14, that is the second leading cause of death, only behind motor vehicle crashes.”

The project to transform Irene pool cost $1.8 million, funded by COVID-relief money and community partnerships.