Deanna Moran (right) swims with her daughter, Clara, at the Burlington Community Pool Tuesday afternoon. (Photo by Jennifer Eisenbart)

Deanna Moran (right) swims with her daughter, Clara, at the Burlington Community Pool Tuesday afternoon. (Photo by Jennifer Eisenbart)

By Jennifer Eisenbart

Editor

With warm temperatures and sunny days, attendance has been up at the Burlington Community Pool.

But while the current pool is seeing an uptick in numbers this year, the first phase of a study by Ayres Associates shows the current pool – built in the 1960s – has outlived its usefulness.

“What Phase 1 told us was that there was not one thing worth saving with this pool,” Pool Board member Scott Hoffman explained for the City of Burlington Common Council Tuesday night.

The question moving forward now is this: will the community support a referendum that would allow a new swimming pool to be built?

With the first phase of the study completed, the council listened to a presentation outlining what was discovered in Phase 1, which was a study of the pool and the surrounding area at Devor Park.

That study, in short, said the current pool structures – which includes the main pool, wading pool and baby pool – are at or near the end of their lifespans, with numerous cracks and filtration issues and pumps that are heavily corroded.

In addition, the pool heater was termed “barely operational” and in need of replacement, according to the study.

There are also issues with the pool enclosure, which houses the bathrooms, changing rooms and showers, as well as the fencing, the parking lot and even the playground equipment.

A checklist of those items included power lines traveling over the playground, lack of ADA-compliant access in various areas, a poor layout for the parking, and lack of privacy in the showers.

In short, the study showed that a remodel of the current pool is not worth the time – or the money.

The next step with Ayres is Phase 2, which will develop potential designs for a new pool. While the Common Council raised some concerns about too large an expense, it appeared the city was still aiming for about a $3.5 million price – roughly the cost of the new facility at Sunset Park in Elkhorn.

Plans will be reviewed at a joint Pool Board-City Council workshop on July 19, with tentative plans of revealing options to the public at the annual pool party fundraiser at the end of August.

The hope is to educate the public between then and a potential Nov. 8 referendum, which would coincide with the presidential election and likely draw a large number of voters.

Among the items listed on what Hoffman called a “Christmas list,” were a lazy river, inflatables, slides, kiddie pools, lap swimming lanes, elevated structures that allow for climbing and slides, shade structures (another element lacking at the current pool).

But while a new structure is the goal, a business plan to effectively run the pool and cover costs each year is also a part of Phase 2. Aldermen Tom Preusker and Jon Schultz both said the business plan would be critical in selling the pool to the public and ensuring a future for the pool.

Schultz added that the timeline to get through Phase 2 and educate the public before a potential referendum in November is tight – maybe too tight.

“What I care about is that it’s viable one year from now, five years from now, 10 years from now,” Schultz said.

City Administrator Carina Walters said she understood the concerns, and that a business plan would be completed and brought back to the council before the end of the summer.

If the timeline couldn’t be met, she added, the referendum would “have to be pushed off.”

While there is general excitement for a new pool, there are also some realities that must be considered, Schultz said. A $3.5 million facility would, at last estimate, put about $48 on the average property tax bill.

On top of that, Schultz said, people would be expected to pay for memberships.

“I’m really concerned there’s a whole class of people who won’t be able to use this pool,” Schultz said. He said the city should look at the idea of “free use” pool time, while others suggested pool “scholarships” to cover memberships for those who couldn’t afford them.

After more than an hour of discussion, Alderman Ed Johnson suggested moving on to the next topic on the agenda.

“We’ve beat the hell out of this subject tonight,” he said.

 

Pool board

Hoffman also announced during the discussion that, after a discussion with an attorney, that the Pool Board has been restructured.

Originally comprised of four members from each of four services clubs – Jaycees, Kiwanis, Lions and Rotary – the board had been down to about six regular attendees last year.

A lawyer for the 501C non-profit that runs the pool suggested a nine-person board – one member from each of the four services clubs an appointee from the Wagner Foundation, a Mayor-appointed Common Council member (who is currently Alderman Bob Grandi), plus three at-large members.

Joe Mangelsdorf (Jaycees), Bob Prailes (Kiwanis), Jerry Robertson (Lions) and Hoffman (Rotary) are representing the service clubs. At-large members are Ed Nadolski and Darrell Eisenhardt – both former service club reps – along with Jeanne Otter.

The Wagner Foundation is represented by Marcy Essman.

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