GIBSON CITY — Members of the city council-appointed committee developing a vision for a new municipal swimming pool in Gibson City had to decide what could be eliminated from their plans after finding out their initial ideas exceeded fiscal boundaries.
Committee members have spent hours touring other facilities and gathering input for what they would like to see in a new swimming pool facility. However, they learned at a meeting on Oct. 8 that their wishes were too costly for fiscal constraints.
Engineer Andy Kieser presented cost estimates from pool builders for a $4.3 million pool and bathhouse facility to be built on city-owned property directly east of the existing pool facilities at 600 N. Lott Blvd. Demolition of the existing facilities was not included in the estimates, but the new site’s preparation was.
After hearing the estimates, Mayor Dan Dickey asked committee members to list what features or options could be cut, since the total was more than $1 million higher than what the committee felt was affordable. The committee hopes to finalize a plan closer to $3 million.
Discussions pointed to the bathhouse plans as the major area in which features could be cut. Committee member and former city council member Jan Hall was in favor of taking away plans for a party room and outside-access bathrooms as a start. Committee members agreed those features were nice but not necessary.
To further reduce the square footage of the bathhouse, mechanical facilities will be located within the concrete block structure as they are now rather than in a separate room.
Another option put on the cut list was a standing-seam metal roof for the bathhouse. Instead, the roof will be architectural-quality shingles with a 40-year life. The ceiling of the bathhouse was similarly reconfigured to be done as wallboard with epoxy paint rather than PVC material.
Another feature marked as nice but not necessary was a large slide that was estimated to cost $147,000. Members felt that or other add-ons could be something a fundraising group might consider, so plans will have underlying infrastructure for a slide and a possible water play feature in the kiddie pool.
Dickey said he feels that in some form or another, fundraising will still be a key component of the new pool effort. There are no guarantees of grant money being available to help fund the project, although options are being investigated with local legislators, and all avenues will be pursued, Dickey said.
The balance of funds would have to come from an increase in city taxes. Alderman and finance committee chairman Scott Davis will be working to see what the city can afford.
Committee members agreed that final plans will not contain less than what is available to patrons now: a lap pool, diving well and kiddie pool, plus a new bathhouse and mechanical plant.
Current facilities are not Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant, but the new facility will be fully compliant and will meet all current state safety and health codes.
Kieser said costs to rehab the existing pool facilities would be equal to the cost of building a new pool, and patrons would be unable to use the pool for at least one season.
Due to “almost double” the costs to build an indoor pool facility, much higher operating costs and ongoing maintenance challenges related to humidity, committee members emphasized they are no longer thinking of building an indoor facility — only an outdoor one. Also, many of the places they have visited that had indoor pools also had managers who indicated they would not recommend another indoor facility.
Kieser predicted he might be able to return with a new plan and new cost estimates within two weeks, depending on the timelines of personnel involved in preparing those items.
The committee’s goal is to have a project ready for bidding in early 2020 or before, and to have the new facility open for the 2021 season. Using that timeline, there would be no interruption in service for patrons because the existing facility should be able to continue operation during the construction.