Archive for Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Advisory board to review new swimming pool

September 13, 2006

City council member Jim Truesdell is eager to roll up his sleeves and plunge into work on a new Tonganoxie swimming pool.

Last week, council members viewed plans for a new pool that carries a $2.45 million price tag for design and construction. City officials were told, however, that cost could change, depending on the amenities in the pool.

The city is exploring the possibility of conducting a citywide election on a half-cent sales tax to fund pool construction. A half-cent sales tax -- assuming no growth in the city -- would raise at least $200,000 annually, city officials said.

Architect Steve Palmer of Overland Park said features could be removed from his plan, taking the price down to nearly $1.5 million.

"You could get into it with that amount of money," he said, adding, "I don't think that will meet your demands."

After viewing Palmer's site plan for a proposed pool, council members asked Truesdell and City Administrator Mike Yanez to form an advisory committee to work on a replacement for the 80-year-old Chieftain Pool.

At 7 p.m. next Monday, the advisory committee will meet in Council Chambers, 325 Delaware. The meeting is open to the public.

¢ Builder Ford Bohl and architect Steve Palmer unveiled a design last week for a new Tonganoxie swimming pool that would include zero-depth entrances to the main and youth pools.

¢ The main pool would include lap lanes and a diving board.

¢ The design also features a self-contained slide area, a new concession and office area, as well as a new bathhouse.

¢ The site design would retain as many existing trees as possible and would use the existing pool site, although none of the existing pool would be used.

The committee not only will consider pool amenities, but it also will discuss the election. The city council has not committed to holding an election, but Truesdell and other city officials say they favor a mail-in ballot.

"I think the voters ought to have a chance," Truesdell said.

Some estimates have noted the city would have to spend at least $250,000 to repair Chieftain Pool.

"When I heard $250,000 -- and to know that might not even extend the life of the pool -- it didn't make any sense to me," Truesdell told council members last week. "And the fact that the pool doesn't have a slide or diving board. We need to move forward."

Last week, Palmer told council members that design of a new pool would take about two months and construction would take another six months.

"We have a nice swimming pool over here in Tonganoxie," said Fred Bohl, president of Bohl and Associates, a swimming pool construction firm. "Do you just want a box with water in it? It has four concrete walls, and you can make those walls watertight."

Bohl, however, said he believes pools should be constructed as places to have fun and should include diving boards, slides and other water features. A slide, he said, should prove popular among teens.

"They build attendance," he said, "because they're something for the kids to do."

And Palmer said he believes Tonganoxie could stem the flow of swimmers to other communities.

"We want to provide enough fun so that people come back to the pool," he said. "They don't want to go to Lawrence."

It's not clear what timeline the city would follow on an election and construction -- if voters approve the half-cent sales tax.

"A lot of it depends on when you say 'build,'" Palmer said.

Truesdell said he'd like the advisory committee to be on a fast track, particularly because the existing pool is in fragile shape and its future is questionable.

Darren Shupe, pool manager, said he believes attendance would increase with a new pool, adding, "I think that money spent here would be paying dividends for many years."

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