City places new pool reconstruction on 2017 capital improvement plan; fundraising continues

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After many months of meetings and discussion, it has been decided to put off repairs to the Guttenberg swimming pool until the fall of 2017, when an entirely new facility will be built. (Press photo by Molly Moser)

By Molly Moser

City Manager Mary Willett addressed members of the swimming pool committee last week regarding the ongoing planning for pool updates. “It has been determined through the long process that has transpired that the swimming pool project is on the capital improvement plan (CIP) for the city for the fall of 2017. We now know that the pool cannot be refurbished and the city will need an entirely new facility,” she said. 

“The one year delay made it very difficult. Originally we were hoping to be doing the reconstruction this fall, but now we’re hoping we can limp this pool along for another two years. With all the other projects ongoing, 2017 was the earliest to place the pool on the CIP.”

The committee began meeting in February of 2014, and over the course of the next few months uncovered many issues surrounding refurbishment of the existing pool vessel. Immediate concerns to be addressed included the malfunctioning wading pool, the deterioration of the main pool’s north wall, removal of trees and expansion of the fenced-in area to the north, and mechanical upgrades. City crew workers expressed additional concerns about the pool drains, mechanicals, vacuum system, the parking lot, and the roof on the bathhouse. “The city wants to make sure the changes made will bring the swimming pool into full compliance with all applicable, updated codes and requirements for ADA,” Willett said.

Adding a zero-depth entry, slides, and other water features was also discussed, which led to the concern that while refurbishments may last another two decades, the existing 40-year-old pool vessel would continue to deteriorate. 

To date, over $130,000 has been pledged toward the project and nearly all of that collected. “Additionally, the public works department cleaned out city buildings over the winter to sell many unneeded items,” Willett explained to committee members. The items were displayed and sold at the swimming pool parking lot during city-wide garage sales in May. That sale, and the sale of salvage in Luana, raised $8,251. “These funds make the current balance in the designated pool fund account (separate from any other city general fund or other account) $141,047.23,” said Willett.

  The goal is to have necessary funds raised by 2017 and be ready to begin demolition when the pool closes that fall. Donald Mackey, brother of the city manager, has hired Twin Cities band Jonah and the Whales for a dance and fund-raiser to be held at Lakeside on Friday, July 31. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Wave of the Future fund for the Guttenberg Swimming Pool.

"Over the course of the past year, I’ve followed along in The Press on the swimming pool fund-raising effort, so with summer almost here, Carole and I thought we’d do something to get everyone thinking about all the lessons, laps, and generally good times that most of us had at the pool," Mackey explained. "Carole and I did have a pool party the week of our wedding for family and friends many years ago when the pool was relatively new and have wonderful memories of that evening."

Sponsorships are being sought to help cover the cost of the musical entertainment for the event.  Jonah and the Whales plays current hits and has a large repertoire of music for everyone to enjoy.

Volunteers are needed to sell tickets at a table at the Guttenberg Farmers Market on Saturdays in the weeks leading up to the dance. To volunteer, call 252-2007.

Tickets will also be available at several area businesses and may be purchased the evening of the event. Doors opening at 7:00 p.m. and music starts at 8:00 p.m.

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