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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Cherokee embarks on pool quest

Friday, February 11, 2005

The Cherokee City Council authorized Vance and Associates to proceed with fund raising for an aquatic center to replace the municipal swimming pool. The fund raising would also be for enhancements at the adjacent Gillette Park.

A citizens committee has employed Vance and Associates to undertake a preliminary study, including preliminary designs and contacts within the community.

The results of that study were presented by Tom Vance at the city council meeting on Tuesday.

"There wasn't a person I spoke to who didn't think there was a need for a new swimming pool," Vance told the council. He added that, "Several told me, 'When you do it, do it right'."

Doing it right involves an estimated $3.6 million total cost, including $2.8 million for the pool and $800,000 for Gillette Park.

Deficiencies identified in the present pool include:

* The wading pool is in critical condition and has not been usable for the past two years.

* The bath house is not handicapped accessible.

* There is a lack of play features to attract young families.

* The plumbing, piping and filtration system are 50 years old. The deck cracks and chipping create a safety hazard.

* There is no heating system.

* The concession area doesn't meet Department of Health requirements.

The new features to overcome the deficiencies include:

* A zero depth entry would allow access for all and there would be a splash pad for younger children.

* A new handicapped accessible building would house the bath house and concession stand.

* There would be aquatic play activities located in the shallow water area to allow children to play in a non-threatening manner.

* The lap lanes and diving boards, would be separate from the aquatic fun area.

* A heating system would expand the season into the spring and fall.

Vance said he was encouraged during his contacts with business and community leaders. "People in leadership positions are positive about Cherokee," Vance said.

Vance said that the pool is a priority but the fund raising effort will be for the entire project, including enhancements to the park.

Park improvements would include an amphitheater, playground equipment and a basketball court.

The fund raising will be enhanced by a trust fund of the Bacon Estate. There will likely be a $100,000 grant from the Vision Iowa fund for pool improvements and there are possibly other grant funds available for park improvements. The bulk of the financing will need to come from donations from industries, businesses and individuals.

John Cook, a member of the citizens committee, said, "From our perspective, we're thrilled with the work Tom has done and with the excitement in Cherokee."

Bill Troth noted that the city cannot contribute significantly toward the fund raising, nor even borrow money against anticipated fund raising.

"Our credit card is maxed out," Troth said,

Cook said that the city's financial situation is well-known. Nothing is being hidden and people know that this effort cannot depend on local government.

"I think we can get there from here," Cook said.

Ron Strickland, city administrator, cautioned the council about what the project involved and advocated that the council put off a decision on the matter until the next meeting in two weeks.

"I really don't want to start a project that we won't see through," Strickland said.

He said he is not opposed to the project but the council needed to take into consideration not only the initial cost but also the ongoing increased operating cost. Strickland said that the increased cost could be offset by increased revenue but there were no guarantees.

Ron Johnson, council member, said that the city would need to market the new facility, including its use for special events.

The council members decided not to wait for the next council meeting to vote on continuing to the next step. They unanimously approved starting fund raising.

According to the timetable, if fund raising is as successful as hoped, construction of the aquatic center would take place during the spring and summer of 2006 following demolition of the old pool. There would not be a pool for use in Cherokee for most of the season in 2006.

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