Frequently Asked Questions about Lowell and South Pools

Lowell and South Pools

Frequently asked questions and answers

1. Why are Lowell and South Pools closed?

The Lowell and South Pools are the oldest of the City of Boise’s six outdoor pools and require a variety of repairs to bring them up to par. The pools were closed in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Engineering, condition, code and accessibility assessments conducted on both 1950’s pools in the same year reveal significant deficiencies that need to be addressed before the pools can safely reopen to the public.

2. How much will it cost to fix the pools?

Cost estimates are still being determined. The City of Boise Department of Public Works estimates the cost of correcting the identified issues, regardless of structural deficiencies, at approximately $2.4 million per pool (2021 cost estimate).

Further analysis of the structures is pending to better understand the integrity of the Lowell and South pools. These results are also to be included in overall cost estimates for remedying structural deficiencies. Boise Parks and Recreation will continue to update the community as we learn more.

3. Will the pools be demolished?

The future of the pools is yet to be determined.

4. Does the City of Boise have budget to fix the pools?

Currently, under the city’s Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), $3.32 million is earmarked for Lowell Pool improvements in 2024 and $3.25 million for South Pool improvements in 2025.

5. How are pool evaluations conducted?

The City of Boise hired local architectural firm Cushing Terrell to conduct on-site assessments of both Lowell and South Pools in November 2020. For this analysis, Aquatic Design Group of Carlsbad, California served as a sub-consultant for pool professionals. Using industry standards and code requirements, the consultants developed a report that included an analysis of the architectural, mechanical, electrical, plumbing, site and pool systems. An ADA analysis was also conducted separately by Tindale Oliver, a national accessibility expert. Both reports can be viewed on the Boise Parks and Recreation website.

Engineers and architects with heritage building experience are part of the Cushing Terrell project team and remain an integral part of the facility’s appraisal process.

Next steps include conducting structural assessments and updating cost estimates for various outcomes related to both pools, which will be submitted to the community and city leaders for review.

6. When could the baths reopen?

There is currently no estimate for when Lowell and South Pools will reopen. The City of Boise will continue to update the public on the status of the pools and the results of community engagement as the outreach process continues. Ultimately, the Boise Mayor and City Council will make the final decision on the future of both pools. This decision is based on a variety of factors, including cost, fairness and inclusion, historical preservation, ongoing maintenance needs, and more. The pools will be closed until 2022 as next steps are determined for both facilities.

7. What is the history of the pools?

Lowell and South Pools were built around 1953. Both pools were designed by Wesley Bintz and built by Jordan and Sons of Boise. The pool entrances feature Art Deco/Art Modern design touches and each above ground pool is accessed via a staircase from the changing room and toilet area. Facilities feature a deck, diving board, shallow end (three feet deep) and deep end (12 feet deep).

According to research, more than 100 Westley Bintz pools were built across the country between the 1910s and 1960s. Lowell and South Pools are two of just over a dozen remaining. Fans of the style created a Facebook page to share stories and information.

8. Are the pools listed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP)?

The pools are not currently listed on the NRHP. Lowell Pool is located in the North End Historic District. Visit the city’s website to learn more about Boise’s historic neighborhoods.

9. How many swimming pools does the city have and where are they located?

The City of Boise owns and operates six outdoor pools located throughout the city. These include Borah Pool, Fairmont Pool, Ivywild Pool, Lowell Pool, Natatorium Pool and Hydrotube and South Pool.

The city also operates the indoor Boise City Aquatic Center at the West Family YMCA.

10. Who owns the pools and the land around them?

The City of Boise owns the Lowell and South Pool property and facilities. The Boise School District owns the land surrounding the two pools.

11. What is the number of visitors to the swimming pools?

Visitor information collected by Boise Parks and Recreation shows that most visits to South Pool are among teen pool pass holders ages 12-18, closely followed by swimmers ages 11 and under. July is typically the busiest month at South Pool, with 994 pool pass visits that month in 2019 and 769 general admission (drop-in) visits over the same period. A total of 3,958 visits were recorded to South Pool in 2019. The majority of South Pool pass holders live within a mile radius of the pool.

Visitor information collected by Boise Parks and Recreation shows that the highest number of visits to Lowell Pool was also among under-17 pool pass holders (1,312 visits recorded from May to August 2019). The majority of Lowell Pool Pass holders live within a mile radius. Drop-in visits averaged around 1,000 visits during the months of June and July, with just under 800 in August 2019. A total of 5,053 visits to the Lowell Pool were logged in 2019. Like South Pool, most Lowell Pool owners happen to live within a one-mile radius of the pool.

Compared to other City of Boise pools (Borah, Fairmont, Ivywild, Natatorium & Hydrotube), South and Lowell pools have the lowest attendance. This isn’t necessarily a fair comparison, however, as larger pools like Ivywild and the Natatorium are considered regional facilities with more facilities, capacity, etc. Additional information regarding the use of the pools is available upon request.

12. Can the public influence the future of spas?

Yes, we are currently collecting community feedback on the future of Lowell and South Pools. Visit our project website for upcoming opportunities to contribute.

13. How can I stay involved in this process?

Anyone interested in receiving email updates from our project team regarding Lowell and South Pools can email using this link: Click here to subscribe.

14. Who decides what happens to the pools?

The Boise Mayor and City Council will have the final say on what happens to these two municipal entities. This includes budget decisions and any updates or changes to the pools. A variety of other advisory groups will also consider the plans for both sites, including the Historic Preservation Commission, the Boise Parks and Recreation Commission, and possibly the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission. Lowell and South Pools are neighborhood amenities with a city-wide reach. Boise leaders will consider this as they determine next steps for the pools.

If you have any further questions, please email Boise Parks and Recreation.

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Mike Hunter

Mike is the owner of the local pool shop. He's been in the business for over 20 years and knows everything there is to know about pools. He's always happy to help his customers with whatever they need, whether it's advice on pool maintenance or choosing the right chemicals. He's also a bit of a pool expert, and is always happy to share his knowledge with anyone who's interested.

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