Discussion over city pools continue in Windcrest

Add another chapter to the Windcrest city pool saga, after City Council July 18 scrapped a previous idea to demolish the city’s closed municipal pool.

The municipal pool was closed before the 2021 swim season for a multitude of reasons, ranging from broken-down equipment to cracks and shifting of concrete in and around the pool, located in the 5600 block of Winsong Drive three blocks west of City Hall.

Prior to two failed ballot attempts to fund and build a $5 million aquatic center, City Engineer Don Young told council any work performed on the existing pool would be finished without being granted a warranty on the work.

Should any work fail, he said, or should conditions continue to deteriorate at the 50-year-old facility, “that work would be lost. The city would be forced to ante up once again” for further non-warrantable repair work, he added.

Initially, Young placed the cost of basic refurbishment, just to get the pool open again, at $600,000. But that number increased to $1.2 million by August 2021, when council opted to put a bond issue on the November ballot asking voters to support a roughly $5 million aquatic center on city property on Crestway Drive at Jim Seal Drive, near Takas Park.

Councilman Greg Turner reminded his fellow council members that any repairs to the current 60-year-old pool would end up being wasted as the pool continues to deteriorate.

“The individual who gave us that (then-$600,000 pool repair) estimate also said this would be a Band-Aid. You will be revisiting that same situation again,” Turner said at a previous meeting.

Council chose to reject the repair option, and also bypassed a $2.5 million rebuild at the current site. Building a new pool on the existing site faces issues such as size and layout of the pool, and the same limited parking issue that plagued the current site.

“The city would be sinking $2.5 million into an existing pool that we’re going to have to spend even more money on, later, if we chose that option,” Turner said. “It’ll end up costing us more than a new aquatic center in the long run.”

Several community members — including Windcrest Economic Development Corp. Board Member Susie Hamilton and Planning and Zoning Commissioner Rainbeau Presti — attended the July 18 council meeting, voicing their support for repairing and opening the pool. Both women recalled trips to the pool decades ago and commented on how the pool occupied the top spot in a recent survey of community interests.

Presti presented a petition signed by 342 Windcrest residents seeking the repair and reopening of the city pool.

“We … hereby demand the immediate cessation of any and all action related to the demolition of the Windcrest city pool,” she read. “We demand that the city repair or replace the existing pool at its current site through a transparent process with public presentation of multiple bids for such repair or replacement.”

She alluded to an item on that night’s agenda listed as “filling and demo options” for the municipal pool.

“Please, please reconsider this course of action,” she said.

Young reviewed the process the city followed in arriving at the decision to put the aquatic center on the ballot.

“We got a structural engineer to give us a cost (of repairing or replacing the pool). Then we brought on board an architect who specializes in pools, to give us a cost,” Young said. “Then we called in a contractor who specializes in pools … to provide a cost.

“We also called in a regular pool company to give us cost,” he said, dispelling the notion the city did not receive enough cost estimates or prices prior to the council making its decision.

Councilman Wes Manning said Presti’s petition drive “was the first time anybody ever came to my door with a petition with 300 names on it saying, ‘These people are interested in not destroying the pool.’”

“Residents of Windcrest, contact the city manager and make yourself clear,” Manning said. “Are you more interested in spending money short-term to repair the old pool, or are you more interested in spending money to put in a new pool in the old pool’s location? That can’t get any clearer.”

Councilwoman Joan Pedrotti asked city staff to present the council with figures and information needed to make that choice.

“If the citizens want to do that and realize the city doesn’t have however-many millions of dollars we need, they can get together and help us come up with an answer,” Pedrotti said. “Let’s let them be part of the solution. Let’s get a hard number and then we can move in that direction.”

jflinn@express-news.net

Original News Source Link