Several residents have consistently turned up at recent public meetings to discuss possible renovations to Buchner Pool, 223 Oakland Ave., and will likely continue to do so until the city decides what's to be done about the aging structure.
The city's finance committee took up the Buchner Pool renovations discussion on Sept. 29 and heard concerns from about a dozen community members, including a handful of children and aldermen, who shared opposing views on the proposed changes.
The project has been discussed for years.
A group of consultants presented two plans for changes to Buchner to the committee the same night: A $9.5 million upgrade that would slightly reconfigure the existing 50-meter pool, update the children's pool, renovate the pool building and add two water slides, a plunge pool and a channel; and a roughly $7.7 million option that would essentially just upgrade the current Buchner facilities.
The finance committee did not take any action on either proposal. The item was on the agenda for discussion purposes only.
Time for an upgrade
Although residents can't seem to agree on how the pool should be remodeled, what's not really in dispute is the idea that Buchner needs some fixing.
Consultants and Ron Grall, the city's Parks, Recreation and Forestry director, said Buchner Pool is at or very near the end of its serviceable life. The pool, which was built in 1967, has survived about a decade longer than expected – Grall said public pools have about a 40-year lifespan.
The rub for some residents stems from what they consider to be somewhat frivolous proposed amenities, such as water-friendly exercise equipment, a "lazy river" and a community room for year-round meetings and program functions. Other possible amenities include a concessions stand and a warming house for ice skating.
Those opposed to the renovations also said they were concerned about taxes increasing to pay for the upgrades.
Grall said he thought the project was a good idea and stressed that spending money on a public pool would result in a community amenity, and revenue for the city, that would repay the investment decades into the future.
The city is still in the discussion phase of the project. No action has been taken on either renovation proposal and no money for the project was included in the 2017 capital improvement budget.
The next meeting to discuss the possible renovations is scheduled for 6 p.m. Oct. 17 at the parks, recreation and forestry building, 1900 Aviation Dr. It is open to the public.
The parks, recreation and forestry board meets on the third Monday of every month.