Pool committee continues to meet

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Preserving the lap lanes, 13-foot diving pool, and 3-5-foot area for swimming lessons while adding a zero-depth entry feature for young children and families are among the priorities of the pool committee. (Press photo by Molly Moser)

By Molly Moser

In attendance at the Aug. 4 pool committee meeting were John Barron, Al Ullerich, MJ Smith, Deb Moser, Bec Knudtson, Molly Moser and Jane Parker. Mary Streich was absent.

Several committee members reported on a meeting they attended that morning with a new representative, Roger Schamberger, of Burbach Aquatics, where Schamberger stated that the city is legally bound to Burbach for five years from July of 2014, the last time the city requested a service from them. 

City attorney Mike Schuster had previously expressed the opposite opinion, but pointed to a strong sense that Burbach would litigate the issue. The committee decided to continue conversations with Burbach through Schamberger and another consultant, and will request files and studies previously completed for Guttenberg. It was noted that costs may have changed from the committee's last meetings with Burbach due to state code changes.  

Committee members who attended the morning meeting with Burbach reported that the company can service each phase of the project, including  the capital campaign, bond issues, etc., and has specialized knowledge about stabilizing ground in river towns. Almost all the communities they've serviced have received CAT grants. During the morning meeting, Burbach pointed out that Portzen Construction of Dubuque is an approved vendor and volunteers can be used to build the pool house. 

Committee members reported on the pools they visited during July, researching popularity of features like slides and zero-depth entry, as well as interviewing pool patrons and recreation directors in Cassville, Nora Springs, Belle Plain, and Earlville.

The committee is in favor of keeping the Guttenberg pool at its current location, where there is room to expand, an existing hole for a vessel that may save money, youth can easily access the pool without driving, and the visibility of the pool from the highway gives a positive impression of the city.

Deb Moser suggested keeping the existing L-shaped pool and making the kiddie pool into a zero-depth play area. The cost to have two separate pumps would be greater, but could avoid pool shut-downs in case of accidents.  

The committee then reviewed Burbach drawing version five at $1.3 million and discussed adding a slide to that design. The associated cost is for repair of the existing pool and adding a zero-depth entry wading pool in place of the current small pool. 

Parker volunteered to bring the committee's questions to Schamberger, including the cost to repair the existing vessel versus building a new vessel inside the same footprint. 

Committee members reported that pools with major cracks are losing 60,000 gallons a day, while Guttenberg's 237,000 gallon pool is losing just 10,000 gallons per day. Knudtson remembers a time when the loss was much more significant, and Ulerich volunteered to check whether showers are on the same meter as the pool and could be contributing to the number of gallons lost.

The committee will determine its next steps after questions of Burbach are answered and there is further clarification on the contractual obligations. The next meeting will be Thursday, Sept. 15, at 6 p.m. in the council chambers.

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