Canton board wants to rebuild pool

By DeeAnna Haney | May 13, 2014

CANTON — After a lengthy work session last Thursday, the Canton Board of Aldermen has decided to pursue building a new pool at the recreation park.

Each year, the town fills the cracks and conducts minor repairs on the old pool — just enough to open it each summer. The opening day this summer is June 14, the day after the last day of school. But it's unclear how many more years it can be opened without conducting major repairs.

Making a decision about the pool was a primary goal for all of the new aldermen when they campaigned for their posts last fall. During the final portion of the six-hour work session last week, the board members came to a consensus.

The board was faced with three options. The first involved simply renovating the pool, which would involve filling voids underneath the pool That option is estimated at about $415,000.

The second option was building a brand new pool, which is estimated at about $600,000. The final option is simply continuing on as the town has been, which involves patching up and painting the pool each year, but never addressing the true issues with the failing structure.

"Everyone knows what will happen if we do that. I don't think anyone in this room or in the community is really anticipating us doing that," Town Manager Seth Hendler-Voss said.

That is, of course, that the pool will eventually become unusable.

Those cost estimates are based on a study conducted by McGill Associates two years ago. Because they are old, Hendler-Voss added 10 percent contingency to the cost.

"These costs are very preliminary. These are based on consultant-provided numbers that are now a couple of years old, plus they are based on my interpretation of the report without sitting down with McGill [Associates]," Hendler-Voss said.

However, the preliminary numbers gave the board a comparison between the different options. Hendler-Voss guided the aldermen through the decision-making process by weighing the pros and cons of each option.

The first option would be less expensive than building a new one, however it would not address plumbing issues at the existing pool.

"The pipes that are leaking could cause additional erosion below the surface of the deck, which will lead to collapse and cracking and failure," he said.

The second option, new construction, would cost about 30 percent more than the first. However, it would provide long-term stability, increased usership and the opportunity to modernize other amenities at the pool such as upgrading the bathrooms and dressing rooms.

"If you all use this as an opportunity to re-imagine the way that pool is used you could very well start drawing from outside of our town and creating a family destination…" Hendler-Voss said.

Part of that would include providing a unique experience such as spray equipment, shade structures and other amenities at the pool.

The third option wasn't even considered by the board members. The option of rebuilding the pool was the majority favorite among the board and Mayor Mike Ray.

"My thoughts are that option B is the best way to go with a difference of a couple hundred thousand dollars," said the mayor. "You know, we're not paying it all in one chunk, we're spreading it over a period of time. We need to redo the kiddie pool area. We need to make this something new and innovative that we can market and do some other things…"

Alderman Zeb Smathers said the recreation committee's recommendation was also to rebuild, but to consider redoing the concession stand area and perhaps build an area where people can rent space for parties and events.

Alderman Carole Edwards agreed, saying she would like to explore the possibility of redoing the old bathrooms and dressing rooms.

"If we're asking them to do more than the pool, then our consultant fees are going to increase," Hendler-Voss reminded the board.

Mayor Mike Ray requested information on the ages of those who come to the pool this summer so the board can get a better idea of what features they should include in the new pool. The board will be seeking plenty of input from the public on the issue as well.

The estimated costs of building a new pool are very preliminary until the board decides what features they want in the pool and a professional cost estimate is generated.

"The cost figures are going to be based on the design parameters that you all develop with the input from the public. That level of work can be done here — we don't need a consultant to do that," Hendler-Voss said.

After the board decides what they want in a new pool, they will put a call out for qualifications to find a multi-disciplinary firm that will be able to provide geotechnical and site engineering as well as address mechanical and plumbing needs. There will likely need to be a flood impact study completed as well because the pool is located in a floodway, he said.

Moving forward, Smathers wants to explore grants, private sponsorships and other options when it comes to financing the pool rather than only using taxpayer money.

Edwards suggested coming up with a fundraiser such as selling bricks to the public for them to memorialize a loved one and use the bricks in part of the construction.

"I don't know how much we'd raise from that, but my son worked over there for many years in the summertimes, and I would love to have something like that. I know there are lots of other people that would like to do that," she said.

Now that the board has endorsed the direction of constructing a new pool, they will begin examining the budget and how much money will be available to allocate to architectural and engineering expenses, Hendler-Voss said.

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