The existing Tekamah City Swimming Pool is overflowing with expenses and is no longer sustainable or practical. This is according to the studies done by the Tekamah Pool Task Force.
The task force listed the myriad issues afflicting the pool at its recent meeting. The swimming pool was built in 1971 and does not meet with current building codes. It is also not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The pool’s heater is non-functional and so outdated replacement parts cannot be found, they said. Even if they were to replace the heater, the pool leaks about 12,000 gallons of water daily. It makes heating and maintaining a proper chemical balance impracticable and expensive.
In the past, the city has attempted to forestall replacing the pool. In 2017, taxpayers footed the bill for a $40,000 “patch” to fix cracks and leaks in the basin of the swimming pool. Last year, it was estimated another $25,000 would be needed to fix the same leaks.
The task force believes the only responsible alternative at this time is to quit dumping good money after bad every year and build a new pool. The existing issues will continue to worsen and will require more taxpayer money to apply “fixes,” they said.
“To be fiscally responsible and provide a safe facility, a new pool is the most efficient option,” said task force member Becky Rogers. “We want to stop wasting taxpayers’ money on patches.”
The solution: A new city swimming pool; better yet, a contemporary aquatic recreation area. Building a modernized facility would offer amenities corresponding to the expectations of patrons and compatible with upgrades for many decades.
According to the task force, the design for the aquatic recreation area is sized for the Tekamah of today. The design will satisfy all of the needs the city has such as swimming lessons, water exercise, swim teams, summer relaxation and recreation for all ages, they said.
The new pool will be constructed at the same location as the old pool. The existing pool will be demolished and the site will be used for the new aquatic facility. The construction is scheduled to be completed between swim seasons.
A new pool is projected to cost $3.8 million. To get the funding for a new city swimming pool, the board is working to garner grant money from various sources. According to the task force, costs will be further reduced by fundraising and donations.
The main way the new aquatic facility will be funded, though, is through a bond measure. To insure no delays or the possibility of missing another pool season, the board is asking for the full amount to be on the bond measure. The bond issue will be voted on as part of the November 2020 general election.
“However, the bond plays a much more important role,” said City Council member Kelly Adamson. “It is the funding the task force can use as match funds for the $1.2 million dollars in grant funding they will be applying for.”
These grants could significantly decrease the amount of the bond measure needed when the project is funded, she said.
Initial projections show paying for the bond could add as much as $244 to the annual tax bill on $100,000 worth of property.
If voters agree to the bond issue, the city will fund repairs in order to open the pool for the 2021 swim season. The pool would close in the early part of August of next year and construction would begin. The new facility is scheduled to be open by summer 2022.
Should the bond measure fail to pass, 2021 will be the final season the Tekamah City Pool will be open unless the city decides to spend money on repairs, task force members said. There is no way the city can afford to continue to fund a dilapidated pool, they said.
There is a public hearing to address the pool design and the bond measure scheduled for 7 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 16, at the City Auditorium (Carson Civic Center).