Archive for Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Kiddie pool may be added to plan

September 26, 2007

A redesign that would add a separate toddler pool could leave swimmers out of the water at the new Tonganoxie swimming pool until July 2008.

At Monday's City Council meeting, members of the Vote Yes pool committee, pointing out bids for the pool came in under the $3 million approved by voters in April, approached the council with a request to increase the size of the pool from five lanes to six and to consider adding a separate toddler pool.

"I'm not an advocate to spend money because it's there; I do believe in being thrifty. But I do believe that you deliver on what was promised in the original concept of the pool," said committee member John Morgan.

Morgan's main concern was the possibility of fecal matter from the toddler area spreading to the rest of the pool because as now designed it is not separated from the main pool by a wall and was not on its own filtration system. Any fecal contamination in the pool would shut down the entire pool for at least 8 hours until the water would be sufficiently clean, essentially closing the entire pool for the day, Morgan said.

He said the current pool design and the design given to the public before April's vote were not the same. Now that there is available money, the city should look into the original idea, he said.

"I think we are sending the wrong message to the community if we do not deliver a top-notch facility," Morgan said.

Many of the parents attending Monday's meeting echoed this thought, saying that the safety and health of children attending the pool should be the city's main concern and that swim diapers won't stop any fecal matter from getting into the pool.

Karlye Weatherford, said families with small children were going to be the main users of the new swimming pool.

"I believe you need to address the health and safety concerns of our pool patrons," said Weatherford. "These families will continue to go to the Lawrence Aquatic Center, South Park wading pool or Bonner Springs, anywhere they feel is safer and cleaner for their family to enjoy if Tonganoxie does not build a pool that is competitive with others in the area. "

Ford Bohl, of Bohl and Associates, who designed the new pool with Sullivan Palmer Architects, said he had pushed earlier for the separate pools. Changing now, though, will not be without consequences, he said.

"Right now we would have to stop the whole project," Bohl said. "We are not talking about any small amount of work. It will take at least three weeks to get drawings up and get them bid. It will certainly delay the opening beyond the fourth of July of next year."

City Administrator Mike Yanez said nobody was to blame for not including the toddler pool since the decision was made to cut the pool's cost.

"We were scared to death of it coming over budget and then we figured we would have no pool," Yanez said.

During the meeting Yanez calculated that with the $285,000 balance, an extra lane would roughly cost around $91,000 and the addition of a separate toddler pool could cost roughly $120,000 leaving $74,000 for contingency funds.

Ford also believes that the remaining money will be enough for any contingencies that come up. If extra money is needed, he said, $20,000 could be cut from the project if the starting platforms for the swimming lanes are added later.

This was an acceptable to those who attended the meeting and to council members, who said they wanted the pool to be built right the first time.

"If I were sitting on the City Council I wouldn't be concerned about opening a month late when you are talking about a swimming pool that will be around for 50 years," said Kaedden Timi. "I would be much more concerned about making the right decisions and making the healthiest choice possible. "

The council asked Bohl to get together with the designers and the constructors and come up with numbers for the possible expansion. Those figures will be discussed by the council at a special meeting that is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday.

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