City selects pool builders

Chad Frey
cfrey@thekansan.com
A child prepares to splash down into the Newton Municipal Pool.

The final day of swimming at the Newton Municipal Pool has come and gone, as the city is moving forward with a replacement project that represents the first major project to renovate the facility since 1993.

The plan, at this point, is to replace the pool — a plan approved by the city commission in July after more than three years of struggling to find a solution to an aging facility that is now worn out.

“I have heard nothing but good things in the community about this project,” said Commissioner Clint McBroom. “That is encouraging when we hear so much to divide us.”

The plan took a big step forward on Tuesday during a joint meeting of the Newton City Commission and the Newton Recreation Commission.

On Tuesday the city selected a company to both design and construct a new pool and renovate the existing bath house — a $2.14 million project.

A team created to evaluate firms responding to a request for proposals sent by the the city recommended Tuesday the city retain selected the Dondlinger, Lamp Rynearson, Continental Pools team for the project.

“They understood the community’s desires and the project,” said Suzanne Loomis, director of public works for the city of Newton. “They are stating that they address (the budget) and provide as many of the amenities as possible and specifically want to create a unique and entertaining aquatic park that is functional for us. ... Being unique is very important.”

The RFP included a zero entry, lazy river, slide and new diving boards.

They listed out multiple things already, some of which were not in the RFP. As pricing for those items becomes available, the list will change based on the total budget. Loomis said she expects a clear picture of what the new pool would include by the last week of September.

The city commission approved a motion directing city staff to negotiate a contract with Dondlinger Construction and the company’s design/build team. The Newton Recreation approved the same motion.

“We expect to see this pretty swiftly turned around,“ Loomis said.

The action taken Aug. 25, for example, was not expected before Sept. 1.

On July 28, the city commission directed staff to move forward with a request for proposal process for the swimming pool improvement project. On July 29, proposals were sent out to multiple companies, including KCNR LLC, a commercial construction news report clearinghouse and plan room.

Five firms responded to the request for proposals, Coonrod & Associates — team members: WDM Architects, JEO Aquatics; Dondlinger Construction — team members: Larkin & Assoc./Aquatics, Continental Pools Inc.; Martin K. Eby Construction Co., Inc. — team members: SJCF Architects, Goode Pools; Carrothers Construction Co., LLC — team members: Water’s Edge; and Hutton Construction — team members: SJCF Architects.

Each firm toured the current pool facility before offering plans. At least one firm turned in a proposal to renovate, rather than replace, the current pool. Another “phoned it in,” according to vice mayor Richard Stinnett.

All five met the deadline for responding to the RFP, with their proposals reviewed by a team made up of City Commissioner Richard Stinnett; Brian Bascue, recreation superintendent; Bart Peace, aquatics director; Hondo Collins, park superintendent; and Suzanne Loomis, city engineer/director of public works.

The project is proposed to be bonded through the City of Newton Public Building Commission along with the cost of the Centennial Park Ball Field Improvements. The first few years of the annual debt service payments on the PBC bonds is proposed to be paid by the city and the NRC — $28,508 each for 2022-2023 and $8,503 each in 2024 — with the PBC picking up the payments beginning in 2024 ($40,000) $220,000 annually for the lift of the bond starting in 2025.

“This whole project will be taken to the PBC once we have discussed this with the school district,” Loomis said.

The school district will meet with city representatives in September.