Guest Commentary - Alternative choices to a concrete pool
By Bob DeCaigny I attended the Cloquet City Council and Parks Commission joint working meeting Aug. 21 regarding Pinehurst Park pool options. I feel further thought is warranted before the Council or Commission develops concrete bottom pool options.
By Bob DeCaigny
I attended the Cloquet City Council and Parks Commission joint working meeting Aug. 21 regarding Pinehurst Park pool options. I feel further thought is warranted before the Council or Commission develops concrete bottom pool options.
The consideration of where a sand bottom pool fits has not been given a thorough analysis. The neighborhood group, Pinehurst Citizens Working Group (PCWG), is in favor of such an option and has provided a large amount of viable information to the Commission. This information needs to be discussed and seriously regarded. I have attended multiple Commission meetings over the past months and this has not happened. This is information provided at the PCWG's expense, including photos, copies and travel expenses to look at similar pools, etc. When the Commission was asked by a council member to give them their consensus on whether the project should move forward with a sand bottom pool or concrete bottom pool, it was obvious by the ensuing discussion that the consensus was loosely knit.
Thought needs to be given to the various options and how they can impact the price tag. For example, Minnesota Department of Health rules will apply to a concrete bottom pool and not to a sand bottom pool. Under those rules and only with a sand bottom pool, the changing house would only require renovation, not rebuilding, thereby saving money.
Other topics to be considered are operations and maintenance. Factors not fully reviewed include what paid personnel such as concessions operators and lifeguards will be needed. If the pool is heated, that cost per year is important given thatelectrical rates are going up. During the meeting, a commission member asked a question about the maintenance needs of a concrete pool and it was not properly addressed. These costs must be understood on the front end of a project. If the city does not have the manpower or money to support the operation and maintenance of a new pool, it makes no difference if it is sand bottom or concrete, it shouldn't be built in the first place. Tour some of our existing parks such as Pinehurst and Athletic (city parks, not those maintained by associations such as Braun and the soccer fields) and determine for yourself if you are satisfied with the level of maintenance and upkeep these areas are receiving. I'm not talking about driving by, but get out of your vehicle and walk around for a close-up view.
Real issues need to separated from perceived issues. An example of this is the turbidity of the old pool. This does not have to be an issue with the installation of a new sand bottom pool. Sand is available which has been washed multiple times and is of the quality such that it does not have the impurities that cause turbidity. The filtering systems available today will prevent that from being an issue over the longer term.
The information regarding the financing of a new pool was vague at best. Personally, if a referendum is going to be proposed I will first want to know what taxes I might be assessed for the value of my home.
Additionally, the city has a planning document known as a comprehensive plan. The various pool options need to be looked as to how they align with that plan. In the course of having a thorough discussion on options, other ideas may come forth, such as converting the existing pool into a green space with picnic tables and permanent BBQ grills. It was decided at the working meeting to excavate the current pool beginning this fall. Is it really a good choice to make when it is unclear where a project in the talking stages will take us?
Once all of the information of this type has been put on the table discussion of all options will lead to what is best for the city.
Bob DeCaigny is a member of the Pinehurst Citizens Working Group.