The Chatfield City Council and department heads held a Committee of the Whole meeting and dedicated discussion to the swimming pool last Monday, Feb. 12.

The City Council convened with city administrators and Burbach Aquatics engineer and owner David Burbach to peruse the proposed site plan for the new swimming pool that was approved by voters during a referendum held this past fall.

City Clerk Joel Young introduced the most recent developments — which have been few but significant enough to warrant the council’s attention.

“We’ve been in a holding pattern,” he said. “After last year, we gathered the authority for Mr. Burbach to do soil inspections and review project timelines, set up fundraising possibilities and a project budget.”

Burbach took over the presentation at that point, showing the councilors, department heads and administration the color copy of plans and pointing out that the position of the pool has been changed slightly to spare old oak trees located on the plot just southwest of the existing swimming pool at the high school.

“The school district has agreed to take down an existing pole barn on the property by June or July of this year. This is the conceptual site plan approved by voters, and this was very successfully approved by the community to have it placed on the existing site,” he said.

Burbach went on to explain that he and his staff started the process by moving the pool around the site to deal with bedrock, explaining it’s a bit like moving furniture around a living room.

“We came up with about half a dozen different conceptual site plans,” he continued. “The staff felt this one was the best. None of the elements have changed. There will be seven oak trees removed, but that’s less than the original plan removed, and there are a lot of pine trees that will probably be removed, but they’re close to the end of their life.”

He went on to speak about the parking lot changes included in the plans that would require the school district to pay for the relocation of part of the lot. He said the excavated materials from the new site may be used to fill the space where the old pool stands today to make way for new parking slots.

“We’d be extending the parking lot over the old pool — the excavated soils would fill that in — and the school district would pay for the new parking,” he added.

Burbach related that the amount of removable bedrock, which the excavator encounters while attempting to find the shelf on which to place the pool, will affect the budget, but he hopes that minimal bedrock removal is required as a means of saving money.

Young stated, “We call this a ‘swimming pool,’ but this functions very differently.”

Burbach agreed, “It’s actually a ‘family aquatic center’ — that’s the rating it’s been given. The objective is to attract residents over the next 50 years. This piece of paradise must soldier on day after day and still be a fun place for residents to go. It’s not ‘splash for cash’ like some of the waterparks are — it tends to draw people who stay longer at the facility, and it encourages families to come to swim together.”

He also stressed to those gathered, “I want everybody to understand that we consider the budget to be sacred. During the actual preparation of the final site plan, we have been considering the other cost-saving alternatives. The present bathhouse has the mechanical building up against it so that it would be one structure, but the concern is that it’s right up against the fence and possibly in the state right of way. If we move it, it would be across the property and be like a walk-out basement, reducing the need for a retaining wall.”

Councilor Mike Urban questioned whether the water service to the new pool would be run from Union Street — through pipes that remain after a residence had been removed — or if the plans were to install new plumbing because the city plans to reconstruct Union Street very soon, so pipes would have to be taken into consideration.

Burbach replied that the pool plans would, in that case, have to take city construction into account.

The pool engineer then broached the topic of the project’s timeline, relating that it would have to be completed by December 2019 but that substantial completion, or the point at which the facility could be used for its intended purpose, would take place in June 2019 once the city has received occupancy permits.

The wait for ownership would be contingent on a punch list of construction items and on payment of the last invoices.

“When the facility is in acceptable condition the warranty begins at midnight that night and lasts for two years,” Burbach said. “You have three summers to test out the facility. The first summer, it’s not your pool.”

Councilor Josh Broadwater interjected, “Most warranties last longer.”

Burbach answered, “The finishes are warrantied longer, but we certainly could make the warranty three years. It does get to be pricey after that. It’s typically one year, but we double it because a pool is seasonal.”

Fundraising for additional amenities such as pool water features became an issue of contention as Broadwater expressed his frustration with the concept because he felt that taxpayers were already being asked to contribute to the pool’s construction.

Burbach acknowledged his sentiment, agreeing that the capital campaign is entirely dependent on the willingness of future pool users and those in the community who wish to provide a place for young and old to gather and exercise.

He cited that there are items that are included in the plans that the community could do without, and that the estimated cost is $4.4 million — construction costs figured to be $3.793 million and alternate bids of $738,000 that could make room for extra water features.

Young shared, “For $3.8 million, there could be a climbing wall, one diving tower and piping for the rest of the features to be installed later.”

Broadwater wanted to know, “What happens if we come in over budget or we just shelve it? Is that $309,000 for engineering directly available to you? Or if we open bids?”

The $309,000 of which Broadwater spoke was the engineering fees that Burbach’s firm has estimated.

Councilor Paul Novotny remarked that he felt the project should be built as it was presented to the public. “Either build what everybody voted on, or if you don’t put it in and you don’t plan on that from the start, then I don’t want to be a part of that,” he said. “I know the vote was only a third of the town, but I don’t want to skinny it up because it is for the next 50 years. We have a choice of running the pool we have until it’s not a pool anymore, or a new pool.”

Broadwater persisted, “Do we know the maintenance costs? More or less?”

Burbach informed him the new pool would cost more because it would be serving more people.

Councilor John McBroom registered, “It also all boils down to Mother Nature. If the weather’s good, we’ll have more days open.”

Urban posited, “I don’t think we can afford a $4.4 million pool.”

Young said, “If you don’t think we can, then you need to say so.”

Mayor Russ Smith recounted, “We authorized them to do all the site plans and tests, and we have to spend money to get the plans and specs.”

Young added, “During the surveys for the new pool, there were quite a few people outside of the city who said they wanted to donate toward this project.”

The meeting was then adjourned because of other meetings set for that evening.