Denison officials are considering options for the future replacement of its Waterloo Pool as the facility approaches the end of its useful lifespan and the facility is in need of significant repairs. The move to consider future options comes as officials estimate the structure has about seven or eight years of useful life remaining.
The topic was discussed last month during the city’s annual budget retreat, where officials discuss proposed and upcoming projects and new expenses for the next year. The proposed pool replacement is not expected to be in the next fiscal year’s budget, which is set to be approved in September.
“The conversations Friday were to get people thinking that there will be an end to this, and our repairs will only go so far,” Parks & Recreation Director Chris Mobley said. “The whole idea was to set up the conversation on the options looking forward.”
Waterloo Pool was originally opened in the 1960s as an open-air facility, but was renovated to be an indoor facility in the 1990s. In recent years — notably in 2010 and 2011 — the future of the pool has been a topic of conversation for the city.
It was in those two years that the city, amid budget concerns, considered closing the facility. However, community opposition saved the pool and lead to the creation of a voluntary fee on monthly residential water bills to help fund pool operations.
Since that time, Mobley said the pool has seen its attendance increase 45 percent and pool revenue rise by 57 percent.
“So, it is obvious that the pool is an important amenity for the community,” he said, noting a public pool can be an attractive amenity for residential and business growth.
While the replacement of the pool could be years in the making, Mobley said there are several needed repairs that are just upon the horizon. For the 2018-2019 budget, Parks and Recreation has two requests related to the pool. This includes $6,000 for a new vacuum and another $20,000 for a replacement diving board.
However, the following years will see the need for more extensive repairs, including the $1 million replacement of the roof and a new $60,000 UV disinfection system.
“Really, we have been doing the minimum to keep it up and running,” City Manager Jud Rex said Monday.
During Friday’s meeting, Mobley presented two possible options for the pool replacement, with a tentative price tag of about $11 million. The first option would be an aquatic center similar to the existing facility and could feature fitness classes and both competitive and recreational swimming. However, Mobley said the design could go as far to include an indoor water park or splash pad, depending on how much of an investment the city wants to make.
The second option would feature a community center with an aquatic element, Mobley said. Through this option, he said the city could incorporate other amenities and activities that do not rely on water, including a gymnasium, classrooms and other event space.
Despite the heavy cost, Mobley said both options had the opportunity to be revenue creators for the city and could offset the cost to some degree.
With either option, city officials said it would not simply be a Denison project, but would incorporate partnerships with other area organizations to create a regional attraction. A similar approach was taken by the city in 2015 when it partnered with the Texoma Health Foundation for its new $17 million regional park, located near Spur 503.
The topic of where the replacement pool would be located was briefly discussed, but no specific site was highlighted during the budget retreat. However, city officials said it would be preferable to locate the amenity somewhere closer to the U.S. Highway 75 corridor, with officials noting the Texoma Health Foundation Park could be a suitable location.
In spite of the cost, Rex said the replacement for Waterloo Pool was something he and the city planned to pursue in the future, noting the importance many residents place on having a pool amenity in Denison.
“I think we’ve heard it from people when this was last discussed,” Rex said. “We asked about the pool and the people responded.”