Farmington parks commission, council to talk city pool

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Farmington Parks and Recreation Commission dove into deep discussion about the decision to close the city pool last week.

Commission members voted to sit down at a work session with the Farmington City Council and discuss funding options and the future of the city pool during their Oct. 4, meeting. Randy Distad, city parks and recreation director, served as staff liaison.

Commission recommendation

"I think it is important that it is on record to state what our recommendation is because at this point I don't think there is and no one asked our opinion, and no one asked for our recommendation or what do you think or even included this commission in discussions which is very huge in closing an amenity" like the pool, Parks Commissioner David McMillan said.

"You can blame me for bringing it back here and I am wanting the commission to think through this process, and you have not made any formal recommendation at all about closing out of the pool, and not that it is going to change anything that has currently happened," Distad said.

"But you may want to go on record with a formal recommendation to the council if you so choose and that is something that is within your prerogative and your authority."

Commissioner Laurie Suchanek asked if the commission had enough information to make an educated recommendation about the pool closing.

The second draft of the tentative 2018 Farmington city budget calls for the city pool to close, and the potential budget savings would cover the cost of demolition, filling in the pool space and reclamation of the pool and bathhouse areas.

The city is looking at how to fund the $10 million in future city maintenance projects. The cost to repair the city pool is estimated to be $1.15 million, according to a 2017 Facility Analysis Report conducted by John McNamara of Wold Architects.

In November 2016, a city recreational referendum was narrowly defeated by taxpayers. If passed, a new city pool would have been built as part of a $12.3 million waterpark complex along with new recreational ball fields.

City staff cited the city pool offers fewer amenities than other area pools and that means it is more difficult to compete.

"What is happening right now is council is scrambling to find a way to make tab A to line up with tab B, and we have this much money and this stuff going on and how do we get them closer together?" said John Moore, parks commissioner.

Moore believes the primary reason to close the pool was budgetary. He said they want to have long-term thinking on the issue.

Pool repairs

The parks commission heard a report from Jeremy Pire, city parks and facilities supervisor.

"We didn't have any major projects except for the pool gutters, and a third of them we bought some new ones and resurfaced about another third," Pire said. The covers on top of the pool gutters have been in place for 20 years, Pire added.

"Other than that, we did not really have any other maintenance issues," Pire said.

The commission asked Pire there were any major malfunctions with the pool and to answer what kind of overall state the pool facility is in now.

"The small kid pool has deteriorated and needs to be replaced," Pire said. "The biggest issue is the pool deck itself because of the heaving and the cracking and toe stubbers we have there, and probably the whole exterior concrete deck should be replaced along with the coping on the wading pool," Pire added.

The overall cost to repair the pool comes in at $1.2 million, including bath house improvements and work to the sidewalk in front of the bath house that is in rough shape, Distad said.

When the state health inspector came to check out the pool, Pire said she could not find the pool filter because it was so old that is did not register on the equipment.

Funding options

The commission expressed other ways to fund the city pool.

"It would be worth, in my mind, to invest some time and effort of study to look at some kind of foundation funding, or whatever it would take to carry that asset forward for an X number of years before we can put in a new facility," Moore said. "We should exhaust that exploration before you say, 'I know, let's tear it all out and plow it in," and I think that is an extreme decision that is penalizing the city or the people of the city long-term, and that is my feelings."

Commissioner Dustin Johnson requested a joint work session to discuss the city pool with the city council.

"Yes, the city is dumping annual money into the pool and the revenues do not cover the expenses, but the city is putting additional funds in our park replacement funds from the liquor store," Johnson said.

The commission agreed to talk about other funding options along with the future of a city pool.

Distad recommended the work session. The commission asked Distad to gather information about potential funding sources that can be explored and discussed at a joint work session.

"What kind of avenues can we explore to maintain and perpetuate an amenity that has had an immense amount of money sunk into it already? Moore asked. "It basically makes our city look more deficient to our neighbors."