Archive for Wednesday, September 20, 2006

City panel targets Dec. 5 pool election

Half-cent sales tax could fund new pool; committee to propose amenities

September 20, 2006

If city council members agree, Tonganoxie residents could vote Dec. 5 on a half-cent sales tax increase to fund a new swimming pool.

That's according to a work plan for the city's newly formed swimming pool advisory committee, which held its inaugural meeting Monday.

Here's the tentative timeline the swimming pool advisory committee is following. All meetings are open to the public.

¢ 7 p.m. next Tuesday: Approve conceptual pool design to be forwarded to city council.

¢ Oct. 3: Pool committee meets again to discuss funding sources and the election ballot.

¢ Oct. 5: Possible work session with city council to discuss conceptual plans and ballot question.

¢ Oct. 9: Regular city council meeting, during which the council will be asked to approve a ballot question on the pool.

¢ Oct. 17 and Nov. 7: Advisory committee meets.

¢ Dec. 5: Special election.

¢ Dec. 6-Feb. 6: If voters approve a sales tax increase to fund the pool, final design, plans and cost estimates would be prepared during this time.

¢ Jan. 2-March 2: Demolition, excavation, surveys, etc.

¢ March 5-June 29: Pool construction.

¢ June 30: Swimming pool opening.

"The main purpose of tonight's meeting is to address the conceptual design," city council member Jim Truesdell told the seven other committee members present. "We need to do that quickly to meet the deadline to getting to a special election, if the city council decides to do that. If we don't do that, we may not have a pool this summer."

City officials are concerned that between $250,000 and $350,000 worth of repairs are necessary to operate the 80-year-old Chief Tonganoxie Swimming Pool. So council members agreed to move forward with a plan that would replace the pool -- at the same site.

"Our pool is very sick and may be dead before next season," City Administrator Mike Yanez told the committee. "And rather than having our community go without a swimming pool, we may need to replace it."

Yanez asked an architect to draw a pool that would cost about $2 million, to serve as a starting point for discussion.

A half-cent city sales tax -- assuming Tonganoxie does not grow -- would raise at least $200,000 a year, according to city officials. In addition, the city is exploring other funding options.

During its two-hour meeting, the advisory group reviewed options for pool amenities and then asked architect Steve Palmer, who's serving as a consultant, to make these changes to his conceptual drawing:

  • Add a fifth 7-foot-wide lap lane.
  • Add a second 1-meter diving board.
  • Add a second slide.
  • Consolidate the separate baby pool into the main pool, where it can be separated by buoys.
  • Move the new bathhouse, office and concessions northeast, so they are closer to potential new parking.

In addition, the city staff will identify parking options in the area of the pool.

Back at it

Palmer will alter his conceptual drawing of the pool and return at 7 p.m. next Tuesday with new drawings and a new cost estimate. At that meeting, the committee is expected to approve a plan to forward to the city council.

The council, then, must decide by Oct. 9 whether to move forward with a special election.

Mayor Dave Taylor, who is not a committee member and sat in the audience Monday night, said he believes the city must take into consideration how much Tonganoxie has grown since the existing pool was constructed.

"We need to bite the bullet like they did 80 years ago," the mayor said. ''... You're going to put a lot of money in it, and you need to do it right or not at all."

The city administrator agreed, saying, "Let's not build a pool that's too small from day one. This committee says we want something bigger."

An indoor pool

Committee members briefly discussed constructing an indoor pool that could be open 12 months a year, rather than for three months. That idea held some attraction for school Superintendent Richard Erickson.

"If you had a dome over the pool, then you're looking at use year-round, with our phys ed classes or, in the future, if we should start a swim team," he said.

However, the architect cautioned that adding a dome to the pool plans would substantially drive up the costs.

"If we were looking at an indoor pool, it would be a partnership between the school and the city," Truesdell said.

An indoor pool likely would not be constructed at the existing site -- and not in the tight time frame the city is considering, with a new swimming pool projected to open by June 30.

"I think, with that type of project, you need two or three years worth of planning," the superintendent said.

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