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Telegraph Herald (Dubuque, IA)
Maintaining the status quo at two City of Dubuque swimming pool facilities will require about $765,000 in maintenance projects over the next five to six years, according to a new study.
And if city leaders opt to build new, replacing Sutton and Flora pools would cost $7.8 million to $9.8 million apiece, according to a Dubuque Aquatic Facilities Report.
"The main purpose for this evaluation is to kind of get this priority list and plan out our next few years," said Dan Kroger, city recreation division manager. "We know we can't build a new pool in the next few years, (but the report will) get us thinking about what is the future for these facilities."
Findings of the report, completed by MSA Professional Services and Water Technology Inc., were presented to Dubuque Parks and Recreation Commission members this week. The report will be passed on to the Dubuque City Council for additional consideration.
While consultants determined Dubuque's pools are in "solid condition," there are ongoing maintenance needs.
"In general, the pools are doing fairly well," Kroger told commission members. "They do show their age. They do have their issues. We do still have some serious water loss we have to figure out at Sutton Pool."
Among the top-priority projects needed at Sutton include accessibility and safety upgrades, parking lot repairs, restroom enhancements and sealant and masonry fixes.
At Flora, accessibility and safety enhancements are needed, as are masonry, insulation and restroom repairs.
In total, the various repairs needed over the next six years will cost up to $765,000. When operational expenses are factored in as well, the city could spend up to $5 million to keep the doors open at both pools during that time.
"The question becomes, is this a Band-Aid solution?" said Commission Member Kate Larson after the meeting. "And how long can we maintain a Band-Aid solution before we start talking about overhauls and maybe completely new pool systems?"
In the report, consultants wrote that "a new facility(s) offers the most positive attributes."
"Some advantages include increased usership and lower long-term major maintenance needs," consultants wrote. "New facilities could address current and future needs, along with provisions that allow for simple future expansion and amenities."
Kroger said the pools are "only going to continue to get older." Sutton pool was built in 1936 and Flora in 1955, though both facilities were completely reconstructed in the early 1990s.
"The facilities aren't going to last forever," he said.
An "in-kind" replacement - meaning existing features would be replaced with nearly identical components - of one of Dubuque's pools would cost about $7.8 million, according to the report.
A replacement with added features, such as a lazy river, would cost up to $9.8 million. The report uses estimated construction costs from fiscal year 2018, which will begin July 1.
The city's recommended capital improvement projects budget calls for a master plan in fiscal year 2022. That process would include extensive community engagement, Kroger said.
He noted that of the outdoor pools' 100,000-plus users each summer, about half are from low-income families.
"So it's a melting pot of activity during the summer for this community," Kroger said. "So the pools are really important and vital to have."
The report did not address potential for the city to become a partner in a possible community aquatic center project.
Officials from the Dubuque Community YMCA/YWCA recently unveiled plans to build a new $24 million to $28.5 million facility in the Port of Dubuque. The City of Dubuque and Dubuque Community Schools were identified as possible partners in a potential adjoining community aquatic center project.
Dubuque's outdoor pools are distinct amenities that serve a separate purpose, according to Kroger.
"An indoor pool in the summer does not do nearly the ... capacity or the patronage that outdoor facilities would do," he said.
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