It’s unanimous — Westport Pools is the top pick to lead the new city pool project.
Following the recommendations from the aquatics complex committee and the park advisory board, the city council threw its support behind the Westport Pools design plan for the new city pool.
The city has been working with three design-build teams — the Westport Pools team, Capri Pools team and Brockmiller Construction team — on the pool project. After the city conducted a survey of residents, each was given guidelines in order to prepare their designs.
In late April, all three firms submitted their design plans. Earlier this month the plans were presented to the aquatics committee and the park board.
Both groups reviewed the presentations and unanimously backed the design by Westport Pools. City staff also favored the plan.
On Monday night, the city council was presented the three designs. Again, by unanimous vote, the council favored Westport’s plan.
The next step will be working with Westport to finalize the design. Then the city is expected to award a contract at its June 1 meeting.
The cost estimates for the projects aren’t finalized because the designs are still being worked out. Westport’s plan was estimated to be right around the city’s $4 million budget for the project.
City Administrator Darren Lamb said the city is going to move forward with the project despite fears over a decline in the city’s sale tax revenue because of the coronavirus.
The project is being funded from the city’s half-cent capital improvement sales tax — the pool project was one of the city’s big promises to voters when the tax was put up to a vote in 2018.
Lamb said for every sales tax cycle, there’s a big ticket item. He said the city should move forward with that project in order to keep its promise to voters. Other smaller projects may get pushed back and into a new sales tax year.
The designs aren’t finalized, but the plans gave a glimpse of what could be possible. Tweaks to Westport’s initial design are already being discussed.
For example, the city is talking about rearranging some of the features to allow for dedicated lanes for lap swimming. Another option, discussed Monday night, involves looking at depth options.
A deeper pool means a diving board could be added either initially or in the future. The city also talked about adding to the pool deck to allow the leisure pool to remain open while the competition pool is closed for meets.
While the details of Westport’s design may be tweaked, the big picture plan is locked in. The Westport plan utilizes the footprint of the existing Agnes Nolting Aquatics Complex, but flips the entrance.
Instead of visitors parking near the current bathhouse, the new entrance would be near the current leisure pool. The flip is intended to solve the city’s issues with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The current bathhouse is accessible from the upper parking lot west of High Street and north of Circle Drive. Guests then have to go down stairs to access the pool. Eliminating the stairs, or at least making it ADA compliant, was a goal of the project.
The new entrance would be surrounded by a new parking lot. Guests would then enter from a new 4,200-square-foot building.
The new building, which would be located south of the current auditorium, would feature changing rooms, restrooms, staff rooms and concessions.
From the main entrance, guests would walk right into the pool area and be greeted by the zero entry leisure pool. The leisure pool would have multiple features.
One area would be designated for tanning in shallow water. Another area would feature a water slide. Volleyball and baseball games could take place in a third area.
In addition to the leisure pool, Westport proposed a six-lane competition pool. Each lane would be 25 meters.
The competition pool would run parallel to the current bathhouse. The competition pool area also has features like a rock wall and a rope swing.
The city has talked about adding multiple features to the leisure pool and an additional slide in the future. The idea is to add new features to prevent the novelty of the new pool from wearing off.
Council members also mentioned the possibility of some features being added now if civic groups would sign on to help pay for some of the costs.
A splash pad area near the main entrance building also is on the plans. Westport was the lone design that also allowed restroom access when the pool is closed.
The city has discussed making the splash pad bigger.
Westport’s plan uses the existing bathhouse for equipment and storage. The city has talked about, at some point in the future, renovating the building to be the new parks offices.
Parks and Recreation Director Wayne Dunker noted that at more than 9,000 square feet, the Westport design had the largest pool area. Dunker noted the city liked the layout of Westport’s facility the best.
The city also liked Westport’s schedule. Westport said work could begin June 1 and would wrap up in late April 2021.
Capri’s work was slated to start July 1 and Brockmiller’s work didn’t start until Aug. 27.
Westport Pools’ team is made up of Horn Architects, BFA Engineering and Duggan Contracting.