By Jennifer Eisenbart

EDITOR

With a fresh layer of snow on the ground, it’s likely only a handful of people in Burlington were thinking of the community swimming pool Tuesday.

That handful of people included city staff reviewing proposals from firms that are vying to develop options for the future of the pool. That could include renovation and expansion of the current facility on Amanda Street or a whole new facility.

“We are to the point right now where we have proposals in,” Mayor Bob Miller said. “There is no decision made, as of right now, as whether to put in a new pool or close the old pool.

“This is the first step.”

The city received six proposals – five of which actually addressed the pool work. The sixth came from a company offering to operate the pool – everything from scheduling to paychecks to maintenance – once the renovated pool was up and operational.

The other five will now be reviewed by city staff and three finalists will then be presented to the City Council.

City Administrator Kevin Lahner said those interviews would also include council members and the pool board.

“If the committee decides to move forward, we propose a contract that would be reviewed by the council,” Lahner said.

The proposals for the pool study could be the end of a busy year regarding the community pool. In May, the City Council approved a one-time $25,000 expenditure to address much-needed cosmetic work at the pool – including new paint, bathroom fixtures and floors and a new counter.

New lockers for staff and patrons, as well as benches, were also purchased thanks to an additional $9,400 Burlington Community Fund grant.

However, while the cosmetic work helped enhance the look of the pool, a great deal of maintenance work needs to be done. The pool needs to be re-lined, and the pumps and heaters likely need replacement.

The use of the pool, and whether or not the community would support a large-sum project, has been debated at City Council meetings, and opinions have ranged from closing the pool to creating a brand-new facility.

The Community Pool is owned by the City of Burlington, but operated by a volunteer board representing four of Burlington’s service clubs – Jaycees, Kiwanis, Lions and Rotary.

Operating costs of the pool are covered by memberships, daily fees and contributions from each of the service clubs. No city tax money is used for operating expenses.

That’s not likely to change, however, the city is considering funding upgrades that will make the facility’s operation financially viable. The City of Elkhorn is in the process of wrapping up a $3.5 million pool project at Sunset Park that will open next summer.

Burlington could be looking at spending a similar amount, a smaller amount or spending nothing at all. Miller said that once a company is chosen out of the three finalists, three different options will be brought back to the council for further discussion.

The first step is hiring the company, Miller said. Lahner said he was uncertain if that process will be concluded before the end of the year.

“It’ll be close,” Lahner said when asked about whether a company would be selected by the end of the year.

He expects the public will have a chance to offer feedback on whatever plan is developed. That could even include a referendum, depending on the amount of money involved.

“I don’t think we’re really at that point yet,” Lahner said. “This is obviously the first step in the process of what the community wants to do.

“We’re basically at step one.”

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