Alva Review-Courier -

Funding and design discussed for Alva swimming pool project

 

Marione Martin

Mayor Kelly Parker (center) answers a question during the public hearing on the swimming pool Monday night. Council members Daniel Winters (left) and Connor Martin (right) listen.

The Alva Municipal Swimming Pool was closed by the state health department last year after a detailed inspection revealed a number of problems. One of the biggest problems is the settling of the pool on the north end. This results in the gutters being uneven so water doesn't circulate properly for filtration. The foundation work needed to even out the pool is a major expense.

During a public hearing held Monday night at the pool, Mayor Kelly Parker listed a number of other problems cited by the health department. The pool does not have the proper ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) grade. Ramps must have a one inch to one foot slope. Also at three feet, the pool is too deep for people in wheelchairs to enjoy the shallow end.

Parker said the kiddie pool is out of compliance because of the way it drains. City Business Manager Joe Don Dunham said the kiddie pool filtration system has to be on a separate system from the main pool.

The city fixed two of the problems this year so the pool could open. The drain water from the pool has to go into the sanitary sewer system and the chemical system must be automatic, not manual.

Checking his list, Dunham said the filtration tanks currently in use are "more than likely original equipment." He said they are severely rusted, and that was brought to the attention of the city. The health department objected to having only one basket for the testing area. There is cracking in the concrete in several locations in the pool.

Some smaller problems were corrected this year such as buying s few new life preserver rings.

Tom Crenshaw asked if the ADA required slope of one inch per one foot extended throughout the pool. "Are we going to have a four foot deep pool?"

Mayor Parker said that applies only to a certain area, and that area is different in each of the designs looked at for the pool. Several copies of different designs with different features were handed out at the beginning of the meeting.

What will $2.5 Million Build?

Jane McDermott said, "I hope it (bond issue) passes. I appreciate all of you. I appreciate the work that you do, and I think the value of upgrading our city is huge. I want to thank you for that." She asked if the bond issue passed, "What would $2.5 million build for us?"

The GO bond issue election is scheduled for Aug. 13. It proposes an ad valorem tax levied on property owners in the city limits of Alva for a period of ten years to raise $2.5 million for the swimming pool project.

Dunham said when the city asks for bids on the project, they will ask for "line items" listing bids for individual portions of the project. That way if bids come in too high, the city can choose to cut out some things that aren't required. Later if funding becomes available, those could be added.

Patrick Dooley stated his concern that the project might be started and then the city would run out of money before everything was completed.

Parker said, "I am committed to keeping this as close to $2.5 million as possible and still meet the health department requirements."

He explained that the city would seek "hard bids" and "liquidated damages". Any bids accepted will have a price and a time frame. "If they don't perform that then we will hold them liable for not meeting that."

Councilmember Brandon Sherman added, "Doing city work, they have to have a bond that backs it up."

Splash Pad

Alysson Penco asked about splitting the project with a splash pad at the recreation park and a smaller version of the pool in its present location.

Sherman, who is on the recreation park board, said a splash pad is already on the future plans of the rec park. He said plans include a splash pad, a dog park and multiple more fields.

Pool Size and Capacity

Someone asked about the size of the planned pool. Dunham said it's about 15,000 square feet holding 500,000 gallons of water.

Meagan Caldwell asked about the capacity of the pool. She'd heard it had a maximum of 390 people. She said during the 4th of July activities, they counted 517 swimmers this year and 600 last year.

Dunham said the preferred design, concept 6, had a total capacity of 390 people in the pool at one time. That does not include sunbathers, people out on the deck and around the pool. He also said one lifeguard per 25 people in the pool is a requirement.

Choosing a Design

Councilmember Mary Hamilton said the Parks and Buildings Committee sat down at many meetings, looking at the designs. "We argued," she said. "Some of these just didn't make sense."

One of her concerns was the amount of concrete in some designs. "I grew up in this pool. My kids grew up in this pool. This cement gets hot!"

Councilmember Chris Eckhardt pointed out, "With concepts two and four there's a tremendous amount of backfill to be done. That's one of the things to keep our cost down. We already have a hole dug. We don't have to come in here and start digging."

The Parks and Buildings Committee, which first tackled the pool project, is made up of Hamilton, Sherman and Eckhardt.

Hamilton said there were a lot of options they thought could wait until later. For example, Dunham wanted a lazy river. "We had to fight Joe Don on that." She said that was one idea that could wait.

"Our aim is $2.5 million," said Sherman. "So the bond issue makes sure we have the payment. If we get $500,000 in donations, we pay back $500,000 to the GO bond. It ends quicker. That is our goal."

He also said the project has to be funded before the city can go out for bids. "We can't ask for donations until we know how much it's going to cost," he said of the bids.

"The misconception that we can spend the money on whatever we want is absolutely erroneous," said Eckhardt.

"Has any thought been given to just putting a pool inside this pool?" asked Crenshaw.

"We'd still have problems with the filtration system and so much more," said Parker. "It's not just the shell of the pool. And you'd have to shore up the foundation."

Sherman added, "You can't add more weight to a bad foundation."

"We tried to make it where the kids would have the most fun, and we wouldn't blister their little feet," said Hamilton.

Sherman described one part of the favorite plan that he really liked, the splash pad located outside the fence of the pool. "So the splash pad will be open longer. It will be open later. It will be open earlier. It should have a timer on it. You can walk up, crank it for 30 minutes, let your kids play, go home, water shuts off, and we save water." Sherman also noted that kids could enjoy the splash pad at no charge since they don't have to pay admission to enter the pool.

"I have little, little ones," said Sherman. "They don't swim. I want a splash pad. I want them to enjoy the water without making a mud hole in my yard every year."

Method of Funding

Caldwell read a statement she said several people wanted her to make. "If the bond issue fails, it is my hope the council takes that under advisement and does not make an increase elsewhere to fund this $2.5 million pool."

Councilmember Daniel Winters said there was only one option the council had without citizen approval and that was a rate increase. "I can't speak for everyone on the council, but I would greatly oppose that." He said he opposed the utility increase in the beginning. "We've already done that and our rates are at a level we don't want to go any higher."

Parker added that anything requiring a tax or a fee would come back to the people for a vote. "You guys can decide."

Shelley Jackson commented that a rate increase seemed fairer since everybody would pay. She stated concern for those who own several properties.

"The biggest bonus to the GO bond is it is sunset automatically," said Sherman. "Your street fee was passed before I was on council – not sunset. It's going to go on forever. Your tax increases tend to go on forever. This GO bond is ten years. It's gone in ten years unless you vote it back in."

Penco asked about some bonds dropping off tax bills but was confused about which ones.

McDermott said, "The school bonds have been paid off." McDermott chairs the Alva school board.

"Which means they're done," said Penco. "So there's not any difference (in tax bills) – plus one, minus one."

Parker said he didn't want to factor that in. "Schools are important also."

"There are multiple different ways to fund this. There are multiple different ways to design this. At the end of the day, the city council felt that most people wanted to see us with a pool aquatic facility," Parker said. "What voters have to decide is whether or not they will support this in order to have a pool in our community."

He said property tax was chosen as a stable way of repaying the bonds quickly. Sales tax was considered too unstable due to the fluctuations in the past five to ten years.

"Personally I have no preference over property or sales tax. I know I'm going to pay more with property tax. I know I'd probably pay less with sales tax," he said.

"At the end of the day, if we're going to see some sort of tax, is this acceptable?" he asked.

The mayor explained the state health department will not allow the pool to open next year or any other year without significant infrastructure repairs and system repairs to the building and the pool. "That's fact."

The city was able to open the pool this year after getting a three year plan approved by the health department. The first year included the drainage system and the automatic chemicals. Next year's phase requires major repairs to the pool, and the third year plan calls for renovating the bathhouse.

He said he could guarantee the pool would not open next year "if we don't have the funding. We presently don't have the funding. It's not there."

Crenshaw asked if the bond issue failed, would the council come back with an alternative.

The main alternative being discussed is sales tax. Hamilton, who runs a grocery store with her husband, was not encouraging. "Our sales tax keeps going down. Until you can convince people to stay in Alva and do their shopping, these sales taxes are going to keep going down."

The video of the complete one and one-half hour public hearing is available for viewing at http://www.AlvaReviewCourier.com. You can also learn more about the swimming pool project on the City of Alva website at http://www.alvaok.org.

 

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