Public opinion wanted about pool

September 19, 2008

By Jon Savelle

As part of an ongoing feasibility study to determine what to do about the outmoded

Julius Boehm Pool, city officials will host two public meetings to gather ideas.

The meetings are expected to indicate what the public’s preferences are: build a new pool or renovate the old one.

Built in 1972, the pool is at capacity during peak periods of the day, generally 3-8:30 p.m., said recreation supervisor Jen Newton. In summer, it cannot accommodate everyone who wants to use it. Once it is full, no other users — individuals, groups or teams — can be allowed in.

In an average year, the pool accommodates more than 24,000 users, said city Public Information Officer Autumn Monahan. This does not include swim teams, private parties or school groups. And in the past six years, at least 2,600 would-be users were not able to register for the classes they wanted because of insufficient capacity.

Mechanical systems are getting old, too, while energy and water consumption is inefficient by current standards.

Recently, a team of consultants was hired to evaluate the pool and the city’s options, and to produce a feasibility report. Roughly $80,000 was budgeted for the work.

The consultants have met with city officials and conducted a community survey. Now come the community meetings, after which the consultants will make a recommendation to the administration.

Newton said the survey results are not yet available; they will be presented to the public at the Sept. 24 meeting. No options have been identified for further study, no decisions have been made and it is far too early for funding discussions.

“This is just a feasibility study,” Newton stressed. “No determination has been made whatsoever.”

Currently, the pool is supported by the same city subsidy that pays for the community center, Newton said. Users’ fees do not come close to covering operating costs. Newton also has no demographic data about users; the consultants are also gathering that information.

The consultants will advise replacing, rebuilding or just living with the old pool, while examining the pool’s location, size, program elements, facility configuration, operating costs, funding and market potential. Comments from the public will be incorporated into the study.

In the meantime, the pool has gotten city funding to add two or three (costs permitting) family changing rooms with showers. The rooms will be fully compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, so people with disabilities will have a convenient way to use the pool.

“Right now, there is not a nice way for them to change in the shower,” Newton said. “It will be a great addition to the existing pool.”

The public meetings are:

4 Sept. 24, from 7-8:30 p.m. at Tibbetts Creek Manor, 750 17th Ave. N.W.

4 Oct. 22, from 7-8:30 p.m. at Blakely Hall, 2550 N.E. Park Drive.

For more information, call Newton at 837-3355.

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