4/10/2014 9:21:00 AM Pool: shut it down or build new?
by Ken Haggerty
Cannon Falls city council members debated the future of the city pool at their April 1 meeting. Ideas varied from just shutting it down, patching it and opening it up, and developing a plan for new construction.
The council tabled any action until the April 15 council meeting, hoping to get some more solid numbers on the costs and a better time frame on different options. Lifeguards are usually hired in the April-May time period and swimming lessons planned out for the summer, so a decision is needed fairly soon.
Council members Merlyce Johnson and Bill Duncan, who both sit on the public works committee which has studied the pool in depth, favored shutting it down and moving forward with a plan for new construction, possibly for something in the range of $2-$3 million. Johnson said it does not pay to sink any more money into the pool.
75% of voters rejected a referendum in March for approval of up to $4.25 million in funding for a new aquatics center at the same location of the current pool. That plan would have featured two bodies of water, one a zero-depth entrance pool, and multiple slides, water toys, cabanas and other amenities as well as a re-do of the bathhouse, a new concessions area and a new parking lot featuring a major restructuring of soil at the facility to accommodate handicapped entrances.
Duncan, and Jeromy Mouw, who also sits on the public works committee and was involved in some of the planning for the new pool proposal, said a bare bones version of the proposal, just focusing on the bodies of water, is probably something that is more acceptable to the community. The council asked Mouw to see if he could get some numbers on a plan without all the bells and whistles, avoiding consultants if possible,
Duncan said the city has had a $3 million "placeholder" for a new pool in the long term capital improvement plan for the city for a while now and thinks something new can be done for less than that.
Public Works Director Tom Bergeson said he is getting bids for patching the pool and running it in its current configuration. Bergeson said very basic estimates range from $40,000 to $200,000. But, Bergeson said he thinks the reality is the pool is a 45 year-old structure that has outlived its useful life.
Council member LeRoy McCusker said he would like to hear what it would take to fix the failing pool wall that is the most pressing physical concern. McCusker said the city has a lot of pressing needs and some potential costly projects upcoming and may need to delay taking on over $2 million in debt for a new pool. McCusker said the boiler and the poolhouse roof are both fairly new and could be salvaged in a plan to build new.
Multiple people also mentioned that the Americans with Disabilities Act is an over-arching issue as the pool is not in compliance with the Act and is operating under a waiver. The city could trigger an order for ADA upgrades with a major repair.
Duncan said timing of any proposal should be made so two seasons are not lost of pool use.