SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Although a consultant has recommended replacing three outdoor pools in Sioux Falls that wouldn’t happen for five to 10 years, said Don Kearney, the director of parks and recreation in Sioux Falls.
The replacement of the Frank Olson pool, the Kuehn pool and the McKennan wading pool is part of the department’s five-year comprehensive plan.
Leon Younger, a consultant with the firm PROS Consulting of Indianapolis, Indiana, that’s working on the plan with the department, recommended replacing the three outdoor pools.
The plan will go to the city’s parks and recreation board later this month. Kearney said the board would then recommend the plan for approval by the council. The council is expected to act on the plan in February.
If the comprehensive plan is approved by the council, pool replacement is “five to 10 years out,” Kearney said. “This by no means is an emergency replacement.”
And even if pool replacement is approved as part of the plan, “these are not mandates,” Kearney said.
Kearney said the recommendation for replacement is not driven by huge water leaks or other major problems but rather by age.
Younger said at Tuesday’s meeting with the council that the McKennan wading pool is 49 years old, Frank Olson Pool is 44 years old and Kuehn Pool is 39 years old. The city’s other three outdoor pools and one indoor pool are 27 years old or less, he said.
“Things wear out,” Kearney said.
It’s like owning a vehicle, Kearney said. Eventually a vehicle may need enough repairs to justify replacing it, Kearney said. That’s true with pools, he said.
Younger didn’t share any cost estimates of new pools at Tuesday’s meeting. Kearney said on Thursday that it’s too soon to estimate any new pool cost.
“As a point of reference, in 2009, we built Drake Springs at a cost of about $4.7 million,” Kearney said. “That was 11 years ago.”
The parks and recreation department does regular maintenance on all seven of the city’s pools. The 2020 parks and recreation budget is about $20.1 million. Within that budget about $3.7 million is earmarked for the aquatics program.
The city’s annual parks and recreation budget for 2020 is about $2.2 million higher than in 2017. The budget was about $17.9 million in 2017, $17.1 million in 2018 and about $19.3 million in 2019. The aquatics portion of the department’s overall budget was: $3.2 million in 2017, $3.5 million in 2018 and $2.2 million in 2019. The 2019 budget figures are from the 2019 original budget.
The aquatics expenses include paying lifeguards and other expenses in addition to any needed repairs, Kearney said.
The department has been able to keep up with pool repairs, even the big ones, Kearney said.
“The older the pool, the more repairs you have,” Kearney said.
Repairing or replacing a boiler can cost as much as $40,000 while other major repairs can cost as much as $100,000, he said. Pumps or filters may need replacing, he said.
“Things have been painted over 14 times,” Kearney said of the older pools. “
Eventually, the city reaches a threshold where replacing a pool makes more sense than continuing to repair it, Kearney said.
Frank Olson pool, Kuehn pool and McKennan wading pool had more than 70,000 total visitors in 2018, according to the parks and recreation department’s 2018 annual review.
Sometimes, a repair can cause a pool to be closed or a day or more.
“You bet we’ve had days where we closed because of a mechanical issue,” Kearney said. “We’ve closed every one of our facilities at some point.”
The department’s annual budget covers any yearly maintenance costs but a new structure would need to be included in the city’s capital improvement plan, Kearney said.
The new comprehensive plan does not include a recommendation to add pools, Kearney said.
The city’s parks and recreation department is accredited through the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA). The NRPA has metrics standards for parks and other facilities in terms of distance and population.
The number and locations of pools meets those standards, Kearney said, which is one reason why the city would not pursue new pools within this plan.