Council votes to close pool, it will be demolished
By Katie Zerr
After delaying the action for nearly four years, the Mobridge City Council, on Monday, Oct. 1, voted to close the swimming pool and let bids for demolition as soon as possible.
Ward I Councilman Tom O’Connell and Water Department Manager Brad Milliken gave a presentation noting the problems with the pool and bathhouse. Pictures of the pool show the damage that has become costly and sometimes beyond repair, according to O’Connell. He said the cost of repair and the man-hours it took to keep the pool open the past four years have taken a toll.
“The entire building and pool would have to be made handicapped accessible (according to standards of the American Disabilities Act) before we could open in 2013,” he told the council. “We would have to take the entire top rim and three feet of the deck off to do this and to be able to repair the damage to the pool. The repairs we have been making are just not holding any longer.”
He pointed out that all four corners of the baby pool have settled, cracking the bottom and creating leaks. Because of this, the water to the baby pool was running constantly to keep it full.
The picture presentation showed large cracks in the concrete sides of the pool, deterioration of the lip and water line edges and separation of the walls from the bottom of the pool where leaking water has caused settling under the pool.
He showed areas that present dangerous situations such as small emergency exits and electrical panels that are corroded from water dripping from ceilings in the bathhouse and pump house.
“And the bathrooms are just gross,” he said. “I recommend that we close the pool permanently and tear it out.”
Mobridge Mayor Jamie Dietterle said the four years of efforts to keep the pool open might have backfired in the long run.
“Until we move forward, I think people will expect us to keep making these repairs and keep limping along,” he said. “The liability issues scare me.”
Ward III Councilman Gene Cox asked what it would cost to tear out the pool and rebuild it.
O’Connell said it would cost just as much to do that as it would to build a new aquatics center because the city would still need to build a new pump house and bathhouse.
“This is not something we just want to build,” he said of a new aquatics center. “This is a necessity.”
He said on a normal day, 200 to 300 children use the pool. He went on to explain that putting the “toys” into a new pool is not as expensive as one would think. The expense comes from the initial building of the pool.
Milliken told the council there are some parts of the pool that are salvageable such as the diving boards, heater, pool covers, slides and a new pump. He said he wanted to have the time to take these items off-property to store until a new pool could be built.
Mobridge Finance Officer Heather Beck told the council there is currently $321,789 in the new pool fund. That money was raised through donations and from funds set aside by the council through the annual budget. Beck said it cost the city $64,250 to operate the pool last year. That does not count the man-hours the water department spent in repairs or the cost of the water that was used to refill the pools on a daily basis.
She said she could safely say the city would save $42,000 by not opening the pool, which is minus the estimated $20,000 in revenue generated by the operation of the pool during the summer.
Beck said there is $23,000 in the pool budget, plus $40,000 in capital outlay that could be used for demolition. In the future, the city would still set aside the $40,000, operating budget for the pool into the new pool fund. That way when a new pool is open, the council will have stayed in the habit of budgeting for pool operation and would not be scrambling to find funds for that purpose.
When asked how long it would take to get a new pool aquatic center built, Dietterle said that all depended on how long it takes to raise the $2.5 million it will cost to build.
“Unfortunately there isn’t grant funding out there for pools,” he told the people who attended the meeting. “We don’t have the funding. We will need the community to rally around us and help to raise the funding to build it.”
The council voted unanimously to close the pool and prepare bids for the demolition of the current pools and buildings.
A link to more pictures of the damage to the pool and buildings can be found at www.mobridgetribune.com.
The council also opened bids for contracts for the manager’s position at Mobridge Regional Airport. Only one bid, from current airport manager Virgil Lenling was submitted.
The bid, based on 56 hours a week at $17 per hour, plus liability insurance costs and benefits was $49,835. The current contract is based on a 40-hour workweek, plus South Dakota retirement and workman’s comp insurance. That contract is for $34,881. Dietterle said the bid was higher than expected.
Ward II Councilman Tony Yellow Boy said the reason the contract is higher than expected is because of the number of hours Lenling actually spends at the airport during the week.
Lenling told the council they could change the contract back to the hourly wage format, but said he then would not spend time at the airport on weekends. He said if he was required to go to the airport during a weekend, he could charge the customers an extra $20 service fee, which would nearly cover his overtime wage. He said he would be willing to train another city employee on how to fuel the planes and perform other duties on the weekends when he is not available.
Mobridge City Attorney Rick Cain told the council that fee would have to be paid to the city and passed on to Lenling.
The council decided to table the contract in order for the members to review and come up with ideas on how to pay for the services provided by the contractor.