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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Aquatic Center planning team awaits final details

Thursday, October 4, 2001

The Storm Lake Aquatic Center proposal is poised to make a splash before the city council this season, waiting for final details to be worked out in the plan for a new 12,000 square-foot swimming facility.

The plan is 60-70 percent complete as of this week, city officials said, and the consulting engineers are working to provide a cost estimate and information on construction and costs for other recently-built aquatic center projects.

The 10-person citizens committee working on the project is expected to meet within 30-60 days for what could be the final discussion session before the project is released to the city council for a decision.

At that time, the council is expected to plan some public discussion opportunities, and if it is decided to proceed, it is likely that a date will be set for a bond issue vote toward the funding of the aquatic center.

Preliminary discussions focused on a pool about 50 percent larger than the current 8,000 square foot city pool, and slightly larger than the new pool at Spencer. While a site has not been finalized, it could be located on the site of the current pool near Sunrise Park, engineers indicate. However, city officials note that this would mean a probable loss of swimming for an entire season to allow for construction.

No dollar figure has yet been attached to the project.

A study almost a year ago placed cost for replacing the current pool with a similar-sized structure at $2 million. The costs escalate with size, depth, and amenities chosen.

The committee input so far has called for the six-lane competitive swimming area to meet the needs of the local swim club, diving boards (which means that a minimum depth of 13.5 feet will be needed in the diving area), and side-by-side water slides much larger than the current pool features - one an open body flume, the other a closed tube that would be shorter but faster.

The committee hopes to add the "lazy river" feature, a first for municipal pools in the entire region. In western Iowa, only Boji Bay professional water park offers such a ride. Tubes provided for the lazy river would hold up to three or four people.

"The committee members were looking for something that would set Storm Lake's aquatic center apart. It is a competitive situation among aquatic centers in a given region, and the lazy river feature along with the slides would make it very attractive to families," said engineer Neal Kuehl, or Kuehl and Payer Lt. The Storm Lake firm is partnered with Larkin and Associates Aquatics out of Kansas City in consulting on the proposal.

The committee's concept also calls for "zero-depth entry" allowing people to stroll into water beach-style. This is considered better suited to small children, the disabled and elderly than the old rectangular style pools with a sharp drop-off at entry. Proposals also call for lots of shaded areas on the deck, a full concession area, a fully-enclosed bathhouse (a feature lacking in the current pool), play areas for smaller children and grassy areas surrounding the pool for sunbathing.

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