Pool committee answers questions from community

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Island residents Jane and Ken Root represented the Wave of the Future during the island's Labor Day weekend golf cart parade. (Photo submitted)

By Molly Moser

Over the past three years, the Wave of the Future committee has done extensive research that covers many of the questions community members now have about the project, such as the current state of the pool, financial implications of a new pool, and the project timeline.

This summer, 160 youth participated in swimming lessons at the Guttenberg pool. Of the 160, 95 were from Guttenberg, 36 were from Garnavillo and the remainder of students were from the immediate area including St. Olaf, Clayton, Luxemburg, New Vienna, Colesburg, and Holy Cross. There were also several participants from other states, including Pennsylvania.

While the pool is still useful for lessons, it is no longer in any condition to be repaired moving forward. Burbach Aquatics engineers have worked with City staff to assess the cost and scope of repairing the pool, and a 2014 inventory of needed improvements resulted in a repair cost of up to $1.3 million - addressing only known problems and without guarantee what repairs would cost or that further repairs would not be required. The 2017 pool inspection revealed a loss of 10-12,000 gallons of water daily, adding to the body of knowledge the existing pool vessel does need to be replaced. The new pool, as proposed for construction in 2018 and opening in 2019, has an expected life of 50 years.

The cost to replace the existing pool is $3.5 million, which is considered the most basic version of the project. This is the first objective of the Wave of the Future committee and campaign cabinet. The proposed new amenities, which would bring added value to the pool, include a twisty slide, water features in the zero-depth entry, and shade structures. These features will only be added if fundraising efforts are successful, creating a total project cost of $4.05 million.

The existing pool is approximately 4,775 square feet, excluding the wading pool, which is approximately 450 square feet. The proposed pool is 5,852 square feet, including the zero depth area of 1,375 square feet. "The zero depth area will be the heaviest used area in your proposed facility by both children and adults," said Burbach Aquatics. The new pool would also be able to support a swim team. 

Stakeholders can view concept drawings at Peoples State Bank, Fidelity Bank & Trust and Community Savings Bank locations in Guttenberg and Garnavillo.

Other frequently asked questions and answers include:

1. Why can't we have an indoor pool? The estimated cost for construction of an indoor pool is over $7 million.  In addition, the year-round cost of operating the pool would be an ongoing stress for the city budget. Two other concerns included the challenge of finding year-round life guards, since currently lifeguard positions are filled by students, and the preference of many patrons for an outdoor pool experience during the summer.  

2. Cascade is replacing their pool. Why is their cost less? Deanna McCusker, Cascade City Manager, reported the Cascade pool has a smaller surface area and will hold fewer patrons. In addition, they will not replace the bathhouse or the parking lot. 

3. What contributes to the bathhouse cost? The bathhouse is budgeted for $600,000 and will include a separate mechanical room.  The plumbing and pool mechanical equipment contribute to the high cost, just as a bathroom or kitchen are expensive rooms in a house with plumbing and fixtures. The construction of the bathhouse will present the greatest opportunity for local vendors and construction professionals to provide in-kind support for this project, and these contributions are an important part of the finance plan.

4. What about school and hospital partnerships? The school board will be approached to learn about the project and consider how the pool can support the physical education curriculum, and the hospital board will be approached to learn about the project and consider how the pool supports community health needs.

5. What is the tax implication of the proposed March 2018 $2.8 million bond issue? The $2.8 million is considered a ceiling and the bond vote will involve only Guttenberg residents. The median home value in Guttenberg is $133,600. A successful bond of $2.8 million will increase the tax on a median home by 50¢ per day, $15 per month or $184 per year. The current Wave of the Future campaign is working to reduce the bond from the ceiling of $2.8 million with their fundraising efforts. 

6.  What is the schedule for the financing to be completed? Benchmarks include the ongoing capital campaign and vendor outreach followed by a spring 2018 bond vote and grant submissions following a successful bond vote. If these benchmarks are met, and $4.05 million is raised, then construction bids would be let in the summer 2018 with groundbreaking in the fall of 2018 and a grand opening in the summer of 2019.

Gifts to the Wave of the Future are tax deductible on the itemized state and federal return for the year the gift was made, and the City creates and mails a gift acknowledgement to all donors for tax filing purposes. Gifts can be made by credit card at Iowa Interactive, a website used by the City for payments. Visit https://otc.cdc.nicusa.com/Public2.aspx?portal=iowa&organization=City%20... and use the pull-down menu to select Wave of the Future. For more information, contact Wave of the Future co-chair Bec Knudtson at 252-1519.

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