Pool repairs dip into tight city budget
De Soto Parks and Recreation Director Jay Garvin found the hard winter was not kind to the city pool in Miller Park.
During a pool inspection last week, Garvin knocked loose large chunks of concrete from the pool's deck.
"I never really looked at what we have down there," said Garvin, who was hired in January. "I really only took the hammer to the major hollow spots. If you went at with a hammer and chisel, I could have knocked loose a lot more. With all the freezing and thawing this winter, it's worse than it normally is."
Garvin shared his findings with City Administrator Gerald Cooper. The deck was not the only problem at the 33-year-old pool. Parts needed for the water filtration system are not in supply.
Mayor Steve Prudden called a special city council meeting for last Thursday to discuss how the city should address the problems that threaten the opening of the pool this summer.
During the poolside meeting, council members told Cooper to do what is necessary to open the pool this year. Councilman Linda Zindler said her husband, John, is a machinist who might be able to fabricate parts needed to keep the pool's filtration system operating.
Since the special meeting, Garvin has explored ways to repair the deck. One method, suggested by Prudden, would be to pave the deck with a mixture of epoxy and river rock.
Garvin said he has found a contractor who could perform the work for about $25,000. The park director said the contractor has indicated the paving would last about five years if sealed every two to three years.
A less expensive option would involve city personnel or a contractor patching areas where the concrete has deteriorated.
Neither plan is totally satisfactory, Zindler said. A more expensive plan would commit a lot of money to an outdated pool near the end of its usefulness. A cheaper fix may require another commitment next spring.
The council will discuss the pool's repair at its meeting Thursday.
"I'm going to need more direction on this," Zindler said.
Adding to the problem is an already tight budget. Cooper told the council the money to repair the pool would have to come out of other city programs. The city spent the money budgeted for 2001 natural gas payments in February and is now facing skyrocketing gas prices, he said.
At the special meeting, Councilman John Taylor agreed the council had no choice but to repair the pool. But he added the council needed to develop a plan.
The De Soto Parks and Recreation Commission appointed a pool committee last year to look at different pool options. It looked at renovating the present pool improvements that would add another five years to the pool and came with an estimated $250,000 price tag and building a new outdoor pool near Lexington Avenue and Commerce Drive. The committee eventually recommended the city and De Soto School District enter into a partnership to build an indoor/outdoor complex at De Soto High School.
It was hoped grant money could be found to pay for all or part of the indoor/outdoor complex's estimated $2.5 million cost. That is not going to be the case.
Pool committee member Mitra Templin said De Soto and Johnson County aren't poor enough to qualify for available grants. The focus will now switch to soliciting donations, she said.
The pool committee will also try to develop an estimate of the pool's continuing operating costs and maintenance, Templin said. Potential donors will want that information, as will the city council, if it considers a bond referendum.
Mayor-elect Dave Anderson said it was time the city council consider the second option.
"I think a new pool needs to be advanced," he said. "If that means testing it to a vote of the citizens, then that is what we need to do."