The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

By Hannah Van Ree

Pool project included in three plans


Special for the Sun-Telegraph

Based on community feedback gathered by the team this Tuesday, more citizens preferred site B then the other two sites proposed with 1 person liking site A, 34 people liking site B and 6 people liking site C. The proposed layout of site B is pictured.

Sidney swimming pool consultants Doug Whiteaker from Water Technology, Inc., Jeff King with Ballard*King and Associates and Chuck Musgrave, an architect with Barker Rinker Seacat Architecture (a partner with Water Technology, Inc.) approached City of Sidney City Council members last night with three different plans and locations for the new pool to be built on.

“All three sites are similar in surface area so that we are not judging the site by the amount of water. They are just configured differently,” said Whiteaker.

“We are trying to show you our process and progress. This will be our ninth community meeting here in Sidney regarding the pool,” he said.

Whiteaker said, regardless of what plan the council members will eventually go with, that the old pool and changing stations need to be renovated.

“The existing outdoor pool needs to be completely removed and replaced. At that point it’s not a safe place for competition. The turning end is too shallow, the starting end is too shallow and the diving board is not within compliance with the code,” said Whiteaker. “The depths do not support the standards of competitive swimming by USA Swimming or the National Federation of high schools. They should come down because they are a risk to the community.”

The changing rooms could also use a facelift, according to the consultant.

“When talking to the high school students the girls stated that the changing rooms are ‘gross,’ but structurally they’re in good shape,” he said.

Whiteaker said that the cost for renovating the current pool would be approximately $1.2 million.

“What we hear from the community is they really want a multifunctional aquatic design that has intergenerational appeal and a stable outcome for the community,” he said.

The team came up with a mission statement for the project that states, “Provide a year-round family oriented community aquatic gathering place in a fun innovative and sustainable environment that promotes wellness and quality of life in the Sidney area.”

Whiteaker said that the three top areas that the community supported were a general use water area for aquatics, a pool for water aerobics and water exercise, and a zero-depth entry and water slide.

When it came to “watertainment” aspects, the community selected zero-depth entry, a waterslide and a lazy river, according to the consultant.

Whiteaker said that each committee and age group appeared to have slightly different wishes of the new facility.

The pool committee’s top desires were a zero-depth entry, cool water lap lanes and warm water lap lanes.

The planning committee wanted the zero-depth entry, cool water lap lanes and a lazy river.

Active aging adults went for zero-depth entry, a lazy river and a whirlpool, while high school students wanted more watertainment aspects and less water fitness and training.

“They (high school students) wanted iconic features and council members leaned toward watertainment as well with wanting a zero-depth entry, cool water lap lanes and a lazy river,” he said.

Jeff King reiterated the three pillars of market analysis that the consultants were taking into consideration.

“The three pillars of market analysis are statistical analysis, taking a look at the alternative service provider, and the third pillar is clearly the most important which is the public engagement process,” he said.

King said that since the existing pool was the only one in town they didn’t have to worry about competition (an alternative service provider).

He said that the group looked at age, household income and swimmer distributions for the City of Sidney to assess what would be needed and what would be used in the new facility.

King said that there was a higher percentage of children 5 and under, 7 to 17-yr-olds and 25 to 44-yr-olds in Sidney than the national average.

He said that the medium household income was close to the national average with approximately $40,500 per year. He said that the team took all those factors into consideration when making the pool plans.

“(There are) 966 swimmers – that’s what we would refer to as a market potential. Best-case scenario you would have over 37,000 admissions to the pool. You could attract 200 swimmers a day on average,” said King.

He said that although you could have 37,000 more realistically 16,339 people would visit the pool because some swimmers would be frequent while others occasional.

Swimming is ranked third in national popularity when it comes to sports, he said.

The team proposed three sites to council members.

Site A is considered the existing pool site, site B a pool site adjacent to the existing community center and site C a new open plot of land next to the t-ball fields.

“We evaluated each site. We took topography, drainage, view, size, usability, cost, parking, trails and access to the community and ranked each. Site A ranked 111, site B ranked 137, and site C ranked 112 points,” said Musgrave.

The higher the ranking the better the site, according to the consultants.

The team added a concept of an outdoor and indoor pool to each site so that community members could swim all year long.

Each proposed site had about the same components just in different locations.

The team said that this meeting was primarily just to nail down a site to start planning around.

Site A would include, just as the others, a zero-depth entry, a slide, a spray pad for the kids, an outdoor lap pool, and a lazy river. The inside pool area generally contained a lap pool, a leisure pool and a lazy river.

In site A, a new outdoor changing and locker station could block some of the wind because of where it is located, said Musgrave.

The pools were also placed in certain areas to better service the public, he said.

“We don’t want kids who get really excited running out in front of mom and dad and going into a deep water pool. So where we put the deep water pool is quite a ways away and actually divided off,” said Musgrave.

The slide would be a run-off slide that makes it usable for a wider range of age group participants. The kids wouldn’t be dropped straight into a deeper pool but instead would slide down to about six inches of water so little kids could go down it or parents with their children.

Musgrave said that the lap pool could serve as a competitive swimming pool and since it is farther away from the rest of the pool activities, the aquatic center wouldn’t have to be closed due to a meet taking place.

Site B has practically the same concepts but moves the outdoor pool area next to the center.

King said that site C would cost more due to location and its separation from the community center.

“You have a stand alone aquatics center with this one. You don’t have the opportunity of creating that same synergy you will see with the aquatics centers closest to the center. You will see it in the form of less revenue,” said King.

Site A would cost approximately $7.4 million, site B $6.9 million and site C $7.8 million.

“It’s not just a pool and building, it’s a complete package. It includes all of the project costs -- all of the development, all the architectural fees, all of the furniture you need, concessions equipment – all of the equipment you would need to open the facility from day one,” said Musgrave.

Although site C would cost the most to construct, the consultants said that it would be best for becoming the basis for a future community center to be built because it would have the room to make that expansion when necessary.

From the community feedback that the team received Tuesday, 1 person liked site A, 34 people liked site B and 6 people liked site C.

“We want this to appeal to all ages and satisfy all the different activities that could take place in the community,” said Whiteaker.

The community had previously voted on a $3 million investment into the swimming pool project.

“All three of these options are very thought provoking and spell out some options; however I find it impossible to give you feedback,” said Mark Nienhueser, a council member.

“To me there are million dollar differences between options A, B and C here. Where are we getting the other $4 or $5 million to pay the initial fee and what are the potential revenue and operation expenses. Without those answers I don’t know how to give you feedback,” said Nienhueser.

Council member Chris Gay asked if the consultants knew of any ways to close the mutli-million dollar gap.

“Each community has its own resources to accomplish that. There’s a lot of different ways,” said King. Fundraisers or funding from donors were among the options suggested.

Special for the Sun-Telegraph

Based on community feedback gathered by the team this Tuesday, more citizens preferred site B then the other two sites proposed with 1 person liking site A, 34 people liking site B and 6 people liking site C. The proposed layout of site B is pictured.

One citizen brought up that it was hard to plan for the new pool site without knowing the life span of the current community center and if it would need to be remodeled or moved soon.

The existing pool costs approximately $95,000 to $105,000 to maintain and operate every year, according to King. He said although it is uncertain how much it would cost to operate one of the new sites, it could be estimated at a little less than double the previous pool’s cost.

Sidney Mayor Wendall Gaston asked that the consultants give the council members fact, cost and demographic sheets to further study and that the community center addresses the council with their plans for the future.

Council member Aaron Barnes asked if the consultants would bring back a plan that stays within the $3 million dollar allotted budget and the team agreed to.

The pool committee will also review the new information to make possible suggestions to the council.


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