Pool project delayed for second time

Chad Frey
The Kansan

It's a case of "oh so close, yet so far away." A $2.7 million renovation and construction of the Newton Municipal Pool has been delayed for the second time in about a month. 

Opening of a newly renovated municipal pool has been delayed again, this time to Aug. 9.

As recently as the end of June the city was targeting July 31 as an opening date, and then a storm swept through the Newton area that damaged substrate and slowed construction. The city has delayed the opening of the pool twice

The first delay set opening back a week — the delay announced this week set a new opening date of Aug. 9. School in Newton USD 373 is set to start Aug. 12, and sports/activities will begin the following week. 

"We're now expecting to open sometime the week of Aug. 9 and to be open on weekends and some evenings through Labor Day," the city posted on Facebook. "We know it's not ideal the week of school starting, but we want to make sure all the final items are completed to a high standard and not rushed. It will be worth the wait!"

The Recreation Commission will consider weekend hours for the pool after the start of school, if the organization can retain enough lifeguards for operation. The new pool will require more guards on staff — needing 14 guards active while the pool is in operation.

The pool will be filled with water, regardless of hours and days of operation. All systems and the pool will be tested before the project can be deemed complete. 

The design of a new city pool has been finalized, a project that was approved last year and saw demolition of the existing facility begin in January.

When it opens, the pool will feature replacement of the existing pool with a six-lane lap pool with a 12-foot deep end, a zero-depth entry area, small lazy river, inflatables and climbing wall, spray feature, family slide and toddler slide.

Also coming are a rock climbing wall, a walkout slide, new shade structures and diving boards, chairs, lighting, fencing, and a spray pad. The existing bath house is being renovated. 

Financing the project

The project will be bonded through the Public Building Commission, which is funded jointly by the City, Rec Commission and Newton School District.

In 2020  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 Newton Recreation Commission 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 Public Building Commission 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.

July 28, 2020, the city  commission voted to move forward with a $3,042,000 project for both the reconfiguration of Centennial Park and a new municipal pool facility. The facility, located in the north portion of Athletic Park, is owned by the city and operated by the Newton Recreation Commission. 

The project had been discussed for about three years, with delays forcing the hands of the city in the area of the pool. Equipment at the facility reached the end of its life, with replacement becoming nearly impossible. 

The Centennial Park project has been delayed as well, as bids received this summer exceeded engineering estimates and budgets. That project will be put out to bid again later this year.