During a discussion of the Newton Recreation Commission's strategic plan, commission member Tim Marlar asked a simple question — but one steeped in history and concern.
"On the pool, has there been any movement?"
The NRC operates the pool, however, the pool is owned by The City of Newton. The pool, last renovated in 1993, is in need of at least the replacement of some equipment in order to remain operational.
Those issues came to light last year, and culminated with a meeting between members of the Newton City Commission, Newton city administrative staff, Newton Recreation Commission Members and NRC staff.
Options for keeping the pool open were discussed. But, according to NRC superintendent Brian Bascue, that was the last time the two entities talked about the pool.
"In the next week or so I am going to try and get with Bob Myers (City manager) over at the city to see if we can't get that going again," Bascue said. We can't let this die. We are almost getting ready to start for this pool season. We do not have much time to work with."
The 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.
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.
"We are looking at this being the last pool season with the equipment that we have," Bascue said. "Summer goes fast."
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).
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.
"It seems like there was a lot of energy after that," Marlar said. "There has not been an agenda item of the city since then. I don't know if it is in our court to do something or not."
That does not mean nothing has been done — only that nothing has been placed in front of the City Commission by city staff.
"To me, this is a city issue," said NRC member Willis Heck. "They own it. That does not mean we don't have conversations about it, but they are the driver. They are the ones that should do it, not us."
Bascue told the commission he would be checking to see what the city needs from the rec, and to make sure the issue has not died.