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Saturday, June 15, 2024 at 12:44 PM

Sink or swim

Sink or swim

New pool option to be presented

The choice between having a public pool available for residents next summer or not, balanced with the appropriate budget for a facility that is open less than one-third of the year, had members of the Parks Advisory Board considering how to make a splash without wiping out.

“In 2022 Certificates of Obligation were issued for $5.3 million and at the time that was the maximum amount the council wanted to issue without affecting the debt rate,” said Parks Director Tyler Bybee of the budget he was allotted for a new pool. “Even though we might’ve wanted more, that’s what we were given.”

The Doris Roznovak Aquatic Center is being prepared for its May 31 season opening, despite underground water leakage and other structural flaws. Photo by Edie Zuvanich

In 2022, the city engaged Councilman Hunsaker Aquatics to perform an audit of the community pool in Murphy Park. The study found the pool is structurally unsound, and consultants believe it will not be feasible to operate another year. So Bybee went about getting a new pool online for next season within the budget.

A short community survey was performed to ascertain what features residents wanted the new Doris Roznovak Aquatic Center to have. The study included lists of amenities and questions about the number of lap lanes residents thought were needed. Only 259 responses were received.

“That survey was faulty,” said Ian Davis, a former city employee who is part of the Don’t Shrink Our Pool campaign. “It didn’t ask about whether people cared about the size of the pool, whether they would be okay with a smaller pool.”

The design for the new aquatics center incorporated the existing concession and pool buildings with a bit of remodeling rather than rebuilding, in order to have more money available for pool features.

While council members were pleased with the number of amenities in the new pool design, they were concerned that the overall size of the pool shrank from about 9,500 square feet of surface area to 7,035 square feet. That concern was echoed by the public.

Residents have spoken out against the smaller pool at city council meetings, advisory board meetings and on social media. A petition is being circulated on a website called dontshrinkourpool. com.

City Council asked Bybee to present costs for keeping the pool the same size or even making it larger.

On Wednesday, Philip Cowles of Brannon Engineering & Consulting, the firm that designed the aquatic center, presented the parks advisory board with four additional options. He said that because pool construction prices are rising faster than inflation, he could only give his opinion on what the pricing might be at this point.

Option A increases the pool to 7,485 total by adding one lap lane. It decreases the width of the lap lanes by about three inches and decreases the maximum depth of the pool from 4’6” to 4’. The projected price for this option is $6,670,000.

Option B increases the pool to about 8,000 square feet. Because additional indoor showers are required for pools over 7,500 square feet, this expansion will require building a new bathhouse. The projected price for this option is $ 8,743,500.

Opiton C increases the pool to about 10,000 square feet of surface area, bigger than the current pool. In addition to construction of a new bathhouse, a pool this size would require a more expensive pump. The projected price is $10,730,000.

Option D answers those who hoped for a pool that was larger to account for Taylor’s expected growth. A 15,000 square foot pool would not fit within the current space so it would mean rebuilding the concession stand as well as the bathhouse and pump house. The projected cost is $15,007,500.

If council elects to go with a new design, Cowles said there is little chance of project completion for 2025’s swim season, meaning the possibility of a closed pool next summer.

In the end, the board voted 3 to 2 for Option A, with the two “nay” votes preferring to stick with the original plan. Board members were concerned about the effects of possibly not having a swimming pool in 2025, and also considered funding and the potential of building other pools in other areas of towns.

Taylor resident Gary Brock is a former member of the parks advisory board who also worked at the pool for several years. Now he is a frequent participant in the water aerobic classes at the aquatic center, which he credits with helping him regain his strength after having had open heart surgery.

He believes the best course would be to start from scratch and build a bigger pool with new buildings.

“At this point my recommendation would be a significantly larger pool than we have today. That current pool was supposed to have competitive lap lanes but it got compromised due to cost overruns and the local schools could not use it for competitions. And the pool gets absolutely packed for water aerobics,” he said.

While he thinks people might be concerned about not having a pool next year if the existing pool cannot be fixed enough to use, he thinks everyone is more concerned about having an inadequate pool at the end. “I sense there’s going to be a significant amount of extra tax money moving into the community. Now is not the time to think small. Now is the time to think big,” he said.

Stayci Roznovak-Burris, whose mother is the namesake of the aquatic center, agreed. “The pool needs to be big enough to play, exercise and learn to swim. It may take us longer to go back to the drawing board and redesign a bigger pool, but let’s do it right,” she said.

Bybee said he plans to present the board’s recommendation to City Council at the May 23 meeting.


Taylor Press