What to do about the municipal pool, located in Athletic Park, was the topic of discussion during a joint work session between the Newton City and Newton Recreation commissions.
Two things became clear during that meeting — that the pool needs some work, and that some city commissioners have no interest in closing the only outdoor public pool in town.
What the needs of the pool are, a facility last renovated in 1993, was the first order of business — and the list of needs was heavily dominated by “mechanical” needs.
“This started some of the discussion on this,” said city engineer Suzanne Loomis.
Replacement of filters, maintenance for the toddler pool, new piping from the toddler room to the pump room, perimeter decking, skimmer gates, trash pump and pool pumps are on a list of needing replacement. The cost of taking care of the maintenance needs is estimated at $186,800.
“The sand filters are about to fall apart right now,” Loomis said. “That is a big cost”
That cost is $60,000 — Loomis said that replacement would last for at least 20 years. Other filters will not last that long. The replacement of 16,000 square feet of perimeter decking is estimated at $72,000.
It was clear that both commissions believe something needs to be done. The question is what.
Options floated by city staff, along with “very rough” cost estimates, included closing the pool ($20,000); leave the existing pool and dealing with maintenance needs ($186,800); replacing the pool with a splash park ($1 million); hire a consultant and renovate the pool ($3 million); and hire a consultant and build an aquatics park ($6 million).
“None of these costs include water or operational costs,” Loomis said.
Some options for adding to the current pool during a renovation project were floated as well — finding a way to make the pool a zero entry, square ends for swim meets and dedicated lap swim areas as well.
“We need to give city and rec commission staff some direction and things to think about,” Myers said. “The game plan going forward, it would be good if we could get down to three to five specific options for consideration so we can get … better cost information so the public can see what these options look like.”
Myers said the public would need to be part of final decisions through the use of public meetings.
“We will need to look at what kind of financing plan is available for this, and we need public input on what they would pay for,” Myers said. “I do not have a sense of a timetable for this.”
Direction given to city and rec staff Oct. 23 was to investigate repairing the pool — with no changes or additions — and to also investigate renovating the pool and replacing the pool with an aquatics park.
“I am definitely against a splash pad with no supervision, and I am definitely against closing the pool,” said city commissioner Kathy Valentine.
There is time for decision-making, as staff told commissioners the most expensive repairs needed are likely two years away.
“In that period of time, we need to figure out what the extra amenities are that we need to keep people in Newton,” said rec commission member Willis Heck. “... How we are going to pay for it will be a huge issue for this community.”
In other business the commission:
• Approved requests to close Main Street from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Dec. 7 for the Parade of Lights, Athletic Park Circle from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Nov. 25 for the eight man football championships and West Sixth from Poplar to Plum from 2 to 6 p.m. Oct. 29 for the grand opening of Jimmy and Nikki's Game Room
• Recognized Newton High School students Lauren Mitchell and Katherine Szambecki who were named commended students by the National Merit Scholarship Program.
• Recognized city employee Cathy Rankin who was given the Presidential Award from the Kansas Chapter of the Association of Public Safety Communication Officials for 40 years of service at Harvey County 911.
• Received a quarterly financial report.
• Set a date of Nov. 14 for a public hearing to amend the 2017 city budget.
• Following a hearing, declared 527 E. 11th Street as an immediate hazard.
• Tabled a right of way management ordinance so that city staff can meet with Westar Energy about the ordinance.
• Considered updates to the construction specification standards.
• Approved a bid of $124,480 from Sutherland Builders of Wichita for the painting of the Warkentin House and the carriage house on the property.
• Received a report on the National Business Aviation Association convention.