City jumps into pool project

Chad Frey
cfrey@thekansan.com
The city commission voted Tuesday to send requests for proposals for the design and construction of a new pool, with a goal of being finished with the project next summer.

It was a move that drew light applause from a small crowd, and a proclamation of “history being made” by Mayor Leroy Koehn.

As of Tuesday, the city of Newton is moving forward with a $3,042,000 project for both the reconfiguration of Centennial Park and a new municipal pool facility.

The project has been discussed for about three years, with delays forcing the hands of the city in the area of the pool.

“We have gotten to the point that there is no way we can open the pool next spring,” said Suzanne Loomis, director of public works for the city of Newton. “We would have to invest dollars in some of the things we have delayed. ... those are large costs.”

The commission voted to make interest-only payments for three years on bonds issued for the project.

To pay interest only for three years, the NRC and city payments would be about $28,000 per year for the first two years, dropping to $8,500 for the NRC and city with the PBC paying $40,000. The PBC would take over all payments in year four. It will cost an additional $95,000 in interest to make interest only for the first three years.

“This is something that, I mean, the pool needs to be fixed before next season,” McBroom said. “I do not like the idea of delaying the interest at all. I do like the idea because we could still be feeling COVID in 2022 and (delaying) would be beneficial.”

Funds for those payments will come from sales tax collections.

“We cannot wait until next year to decide if we can afford to do it,” McBroom said.

The commission also approved moving forward with sending request for proposals to companies for a design/build process for the pool project. The requests will be sent this week, with proposals due back Aug. 18. Those proposals will be reviewed by a city staff and incoming mayor Richard Stinnett before being brought back to the commission.

The budget for the new pool is about $2.1 million.

Included in the request is a facility including spray features for younger children, shade structures, climbing walls, inflatables, diving boards, a new slide and a lazy river.

“I threw in some extras. They can tell us ’you can’t do this for that money,’ ” Loomis said.

The RFP specifies that the new pool will be constructed at the location of the current Municipal Pool at Athletic Park, with the current bath house staying in place and being renovated.

“The current hitch in the giddy-up is we are saying that the PBC will fund this,” Loomis said.

The struggle there is that the agreement forming the PBC between the city, school district and Newton Recreation Commission does not list, specifically, the pool. It does list ball fields.

“The school district did state that they would be willing to listen,” Loomis said.

City staff will be meeting with the school superintendent Aug. 10.

The Centennial Park project already has a design in place, one that would add two new ball fields to Centennial Park and change the location of some youth fields.

“The intent is to have four fields that are nice to be used for tournament play,” Loomis said.

Loomis said that project is about year to 18 months out to allow for seeding of grass for the diamonds.

In other business, the commission:

• Appointed members to the Law Enforcement Advisory Panel: Johnson Kawanguzi, term ending April 30, 2023; reappointed Gloria Arellano and Shafiq Hasan, terms ending April 30, 2023; appointed Taylor Goerend to fill unexpired term of Marvin Rice, term ending April 30, 2021.

• Held a public hearing on the 2021 budget. One person, Ron Eggert, spoke. “I would like to commend you and city staff, and all the way down the line, with what you have done with the budget. I have concerns about things that have been postponed a year or two ... other than that you did a fabulous job with keeping the mill levy flat and making it a something you can understand.”

• Approved the 2021 budget. The mill levy will remain flat in the next budget.

• Approved a lease with Horizon Aviation for hangar A at Newton City/County Airport. The lease agreement is for a five-year lease for office space in both the hangar and the main building of the airport. The company will provide private flight lessons.

• Approved a project agreement with the State Historic Preservation Office to facilitate the creation of a disaster plan focused on historic properties.

• A resolution extending the term of Resolution G-1191, which provides the city's intent to grant tax abatement to the expansion of the Future Foam facilities in Newton. The company first applied for a tax abatement in 2018.

• Approved an amended and restated ground lease agreement with Midwest Electric Transformer Services Inc. for certain real property located at the Newton City/County Airport. The company is wanting to expand and lease about 370 square feet more land to expand the company laydown facility.