Engineers explain costs of potential pool sites
“There seems to have been conflicting information on just how much it will cost to construct a new pool at its current site, versus constructing a new pool at the MARC. I called this meeting tonight so everyone can be in the same room, at the same time to get the correct information.”
Those were the words of Merrill mayor Bill Bialecki at the start of Wednesday’s joint meeting between the Merrill Area Parks and Recreation Commission and the Merrill Committee of the Whole.
Also present were representatives from Wausau-based Becher Hoppe Engineers and Architects.
Becher Hoppe has been handling the planning for a new municipal pool since the process began. The firm was asked to be present on Wednesday evening, to go over figures they had previously reported.
The project’s lead engineer Melody Hamlin presented committee and commission members with estimates of three previous designs.
“Option C” as it was referred to, was the preferred option during previous meetings and was the focus of Hamlin’s presentation on Wednesday. As planned, Option C would cover an estimated 42,000 square feet, 6,000 of which is pool area. As Hamlin explained, the difference to construct Option C at Stange’s Park would cost nearly a million dollars more ($959,000) than construction at the Merrill Area Recreation Complex (MARC).
Included in that estimate are costs for demolition of the existing pool, foundation, structural and building utility costs, as well as a 15% contingency in case unforeseen issues were to arise during construction.
Other estimated costs for construction at Stange’s Park includes engineer fill and accessibility, to meet requirements set by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Committee member Pete Lokemoen questioned the relevance of the figures on Option C, due to a new conceptual pool design being recently introduced at a Parks and Recreation commission meeting. Lokemoen felt Option C was no longer under consideration and therefore further discussion of it and associated figures, was irrelevant Hamlin admitted the figures of Option C are only estimates at this point. Additional information could only be gathered by performing additional studies such as soil boring.
Commission member Ralph Sturm also challenged the numbers.
Bialecki attempted to re-focus the heated discussion to the matter at hand.
“The bottom line here is the cost difference is substantial between building at Stange’s and the MARC. The fact of the matter is a very generous donor sat us both down in (City Administrator) Dave’s (Johnson) office and gave us both a butt chewing about the kids in this city not having a swimming pool. They offered a very generous 4 million dollar donation. There is no question, we cannot come up with a million dollar difference or even half a million dollars. We just don’t have the money!” Bialecki explained. “I can’t speak for the whole council, but I would highly recommend against borrowing for a pool.”
According to Parks and Recreation Director Dan Wendorf, an estimated 200,000 visitors pass through the MARC each year. If a pool were to be built there, he expects those numbers would only go up.
“I would think it would be logical to assume those numbers would increase substantially,” Wendorf adds. “The donor is comfortable with the location which has been unanimously approved by the parks and recreation commission.”
On Sept. 3, the commission considered various options for a new municipal swimming pool and ultimately voted unanimously to select the MARC as the location.
The commission will re-convene on Wednesday to hear presentations from three aquatic design firms, on services they can provide in constructing a new swimming pool. Action is expected to be taken on selecting one of the firms to handle future construction.
Wednesday’s meeting is set for 4:15 p.m.
Common Council action would be required to accept the donation offer.