Waterloo pool plans make waves

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Pictured is the proposed pool location by Waterloo Citizens For a Pool in relation to the splash pad set to be built at William Zimmer Park.

Waterloo Citizens for a Pool representatives attended last Wednesday’s Waterloo Park District Board meeting, plans in tow. 

After a summer of meetings with Westport Pools, the non-profit group presented a detailed vision to the park board in hopes of drumming up support for a proposed $3.9 million aquatic facility. 

“Basically a closer commitment and working relationship on this is the overall goal,” WCP President Amy Grandcolas said. 

The park board did not take any action on the pool plans, but did review WCP’s preferred design, funding plans and more.

The park board has not expressed interest in building a public pool after the Sondag City Swimming Pool at 316 N. Library Street closed over a decade ago following multiple failed voter referendums for repairs and/or upgrades. 

The group’s preferred design was largely dictated by previous marketing studies, Grandcolas explained, perhaps the most influential being a 2019 Southern Illinois University Edwardsville marketing research study. 

“(Westport Pools) specifically looked at the survey results we had from the SIU study and how people ranked (potential features),” Grandcolas said. “The number one feature people really liked was the lazy river, so we made sure that was incorporated.” 

In total, the proposed design includes over 8,500 square feet of water surface, the highly sought after lazy river and vortex, water basketball, water play features and teaching zones. WCP hopes to have ample shade structures, a tanning platform, concession area, large pool deck and a concession area as well. 

With the ability to provide services such as aquatic therapy and water safety swim lessons, as well as provide the community with more employment opportunities, Grandcolas said the pool would benefit Waterloo immensely. 

This aquatic facility would be a one-of-a-kind facility in the area, which leads to a unique perk, Grandcolas said. 

“Currently there is no public pool in Monroe County, so that does bring in the possibility of a lot of visitors from neighboring communities that would then be in our area and frequenting the businesses and stuff as well,” she said. 

Still wanting to be close to the splash pad, Grandcolas explained the proposed site of the pool shifted as the planned location for the splash pad changed. 

As Waterloo Park District President Kevin Hahn explained, blueprints originally showed the splash pad “close to the curb cut on Rogers Street” at William Zimmer Park. Now, the park district is planning to construct the splash pad closer to Benjamin Street as it contains flatter land and less dirt work will be required. 

Because of this, WCP’s pool plans pivoted as well. 

“In relation to the proposed splash pad … (the pool) is on the east side. We had originally planned for the north, but after the recent adjustment to the placement of the splash pad, the only adjacent space that could fit it would now be to the east,” Grandcolas explained to the park board. “This design would include expanding on the proposed building you have for the splash pad and then an expansion on the proposed parking lot as well.” 

Grandcolas stressed that cost effectiveness was at the forefront of all planning. 

Unlike previous designs, WCP’s new plan includes a one vessel pool which helps to keep cost down. The depth of a pool, which must be so deep if diving is allowed, often causes costs to skyrocket. 

“We specifically avoided a diving board because of how much cost it adds,” Grandcolas said. 

The total estimated cost of the project, WCP said, is nearly $4 million. Grandcolas said this does not include excavation, rock breaking, utility work, deck lighting and other similar costs. She explained that because the site is not firm yet, there is no way of knowing how much excavation would be. 

According to a “generalized breakdown” of approximate costs, the pool vessel itself will cost $1.93 million, the lazy river and vortex $150,000, shade structures $50,000, pool deck $170,000, bath house $1.475 million and pool enclosure $40,000. Estimated operating costs are expected to range from $150,000 – $160,000 a year. 

Grandcolas said WCP hopes the first and primary source of funding would come from sponsorships, donations, etc. Through an upcoming capital campaign the group will launch at the beginning of next month, WCP will push for this support. 

The community can also help by donating materials and services associated with excavation and grading, building materials, fencing and landscaping. 

There are also several grant options Grandcolas mentioned. While some are given through private entities, they also allow non-profits like WCP to apply. 

Grandcolas specifically referenced the Illinois Department of Economic Development and Commerce as a potential granting source. While the grant says it is for rebuilding downtown and main streets, it may also be used for community centers.

Strong support from the park district could boost WCP’s chances of being awarded this grant, Grandcolas said. 

“A non-profit can apply, but they do give preference to projects that have government agency and community support,” Grandcolas said, adding the grants go up to $3,000,000. 

She said general admission will help cover operational costs, with WCP considering charging non-residents an additional entry fee. Season passes will be available for both city residents and non-residents. 

The group is also looking into revenue and municipal bonds. 

“We’re starting to do our research on that now,” Grandcolas said. 

WCP is hoping to get tax referendums placed on the 2022 primary election ballot. If passed, the collected taxes would help fund building and operating costs. 

The group will host a public town hall meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 9, in the Waterloo High School auditorium. At this time, WCP will also launch a capital campaign to drum up additional support from businesses, organizations, clubs and foundations. 

Unlike the pool plans, the park board took action on splash pad matters at the meeting. It moved to submit a $600 permit application fee for the Illinois Department of Public Health. 

Previously, the wait time for permit approval was estimated to be nine months, but an HMG project engineer said she has been seeing a lead time of three months for other recent projects.

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