AKRON ?? The City of Akron will be without a swimming pool this summer as demolition of the pool began in early January.
Akron City Administrator Dan Rolfes said the city council made the decision to close the pool and look at a new facility at its September 2021 council meeting.
??In September, the council made the decision that we were not going to stick any more money into the existing pool,?? Rolfes said.
(Photos Contributed) Above, is the proposed architectural rendering for the City of Akron??s new aquatic center. If bids come in where they need to be, the pool could be open for summer fun in 2023. City crews worked to demolish the 60-year old facility. Deterioration of the 1950??s era pool led Akron City Council members to proceed with closing the old pool.
He explained that by the end of the 2021 pool season, about 30,000 gallons of water was added to the pool each day.
??So something let loose somewhere that we??re not able to see and then with cracks and painting and deterioration in the metal side walls and things of that nature, we just kind of put all that information out there to the public and asked them to come and tour the pool. The councilers came and toured the pool to see what shape it was in,?? he said.
Akron Water and Wastewater Operator Matt Combs had reached out to several people to see how much it would take to remedy some of the situations that were going on.
??We were looking at a couple hundred thousands of dollars of repairs to our already 60-year old facility just to get ready for the following season. The council made the decision at that point that we weren??t going to throw any more money at the old facility, we were going to concentrate on getting a new one done,?? Rolfes said.
Rolfes said once the decision was made to close the pool, the city asked ISG Engineering of Des Moines to put together demolition specs as well as keeping things moving by asking them to work on the new design.
Schmillen Construction, Inc., of Marcus was contracted to do the demolition work of the current pool. That work included removing the current pool??s shell and decking, the wading pool and its plumbing and equipment, the pump house mechanical building and chemical storage shed. Also needed to be done is capping off water and sewer lines and taking care of water that may accumulate in the pool area. That work is to be completed by March 24.
Rolfes said the design of what will be the Akron Family Aquatic Center has not changed since it was first presented to Akron residents in 2016. At that time the project was estimated to cost $2 million.
??That is the design that we have put out there and have been showing people for the last five or six years and it is still the design that we will go with. It??s what we??ve been promising people as the fundraising has gone on and we feel like we can??t deter from that because of what we??ve asked for fundraising,?? he said.
Plans call for replacement of the 1950s era swimming pool with a multi-feature zero depth entry aquatic center with entry steps and entry ramp both with safety railings, large in-pool and deck seating shade umbrellas, spray units, a 1-meter diving board , lily pads, volleyball net, basketball hoop and two flume slides.
Rolfes said the city had hoped to apply for a CAT Grant (Enhance Iowa Community Attraction and Tourism Grant) this month, to help finish the fundraising and reach the goal.
??But we discovered that the CAT grants weren??t available, so depending on how the engineer??s estimate comes back, what we get for bids is going to kind of depend if it goes through in 2023 or not,?? Rolfes said.
Meanwhile, fundraising for a new pool complex began in 2017 by the Akron Pool Committee, with other organizations also holding various fundraising activities.
??We have reached out about as far as we think we can as far as getting funds from local businesses, and we even reached out to a few people in Le Mars, to try to generate some funds,?? Rolfes said. ??With inflation and how things are going there, we??re at a crossroads and we have to make a decision one way or the other.??
Those construction costs will be a big issue for the city.
Rolfes said the community has been very supportive of the project.
??From day one, we said we wanted to do this project without raising any sort of taxes, so at this point we have done that and kept our word. There hasn??t been any increase on taxes and the financing that we are going to take out will be paid back using LOST funds,?? Rolfes said.
As far as a timeline for the pool project, Rolfes indicated the council is hopeful that a call for bids could be done in late February or March, with a decision coming in March as far as awarding the bid or moving forward with the project at that period.
??We??re looking for a season opening in 2023 if all falls in place,?? he said.