Pool Fun

The Washington Aquatics Facility Committee is moving forward with interviewing consulting firms regarding a proposed new pool.

Darren Dunkle, parks director, said the committee has reviewed the proposals to conduct the public engagement process and is now conducting the interviews. The committee hopes to award a contract to a firm by Thursday, Sept. 20.

Once a firm is selected, the public engagement process will ensue.

The first phase will assess community opinion and priorities through stakeholder meetings, community focus groups and community surveys.

In the second phase, the consultant will present an overview of the data gathered. Once that process is complete, the city will start planning for the pool.

“We will go through the public engagement process and then we will review that information and then move on to the next phase to determine site, cost and design,” Dunkle said.

The committee last met June 28 to discuss preliminary plans. The aquatics committee has not set a date for the next meeting.   

At the July park board meeting, Dunkle said he’s hopeful there will be a groundbreaking for the proposed pool in two years.

Pool Funding  

The new pool will be funded through the half-cent capital improvement sales tax that was approved for extension in April. It’s estimated to cost about $4 million to build.

The half-cent sales tax is estimated to produce about $2.2 million per year for the eight-year term.

The parks board’s discussion on the Agnes Nolting Aquatics Complex need for upgrades has been ongoing. Last year, during the October park board meeting, the board discussed closing the pool entirely. 

That option has not been discussed further due to a community uproar.

Old Pool  

The pool has a history of leaky pumps and broken down filters. 

This year, the main pump broke down, which resulted in closing the main pool a couple of weeks early.

Dunkle said the department is still trying to determine whether the pump needs to be replaced or if it can be repaired. 

The department began draining the pool July 27 after Dunkle said it was becoming a safety issue due to chemicals not being pumped into the pool by the broken pump.

Dunkle said the department is putting together bid specifications and will be going out to bid within the next couple of weeks.  

Previously, Dunkle said the pool costs the city around $100,000 to $120,000 a year.

Due to the early pool closure this season, the board made the decision to refund season passes cost at a prorated amount.

The official financial statement for how much the pool cost to operate this summer will not come until late September, according to Dunkle.

“Other than the pump and motor issue, it has been a typical year,” he said. “The pool will be open next year.”

The aquatics committee members include Andrew Meyer, Anne Schneider, Betty Werner, Chris Eckelkamp, Diane Jones, Gavin Woolley, Sparky Stuckenschneider, Tessie Steffens, Jeff Patke, Greg Skornia, Sandy Lucy, Darren Lamb and Darren Dunkle.