Touring the Powell swimming pool

Posted 12/2/10

“We're very much on schedule. The building went up without any glitches,” said Nancy Ronto, the Burbach Aquatics project manager.

Construction started on the Powell Aquatic Center at Homesteader Park last October, and for the first …

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Touring the Powell swimming pool


{gallery}08_20_09/pool{/gallery}During a tour of the Powell Aquatic Center, councilmen and other city leaders met with construction crews to evaluate the facility's progress. From left, Floyd Young talks with Jake Thiel and Don Hillman as Mayor Scott Mangold and Nancy Ronto discuss the project. Tribune photo by Carla WenskyEarly 2010 opening slated for $9.2 million aquatic facility With sunlight pouring through an open roof, city leaders toured the Powell Aquatic Center last week. They were welcomed by Sletten Construction crews, concrete vessels nearly ready for swimmers and good news: Construction is on track for an early 2010 opening.

“We're very much on schedule. The building went up without any glitches,” said Nancy Ronto, the Burbach Aquatics project manager.

Construction started on the Powell Aquatic Center at Homesteader Park last October, and for the first six months, much of the work focused on the pool's intricate plumbing system and concrete pours. The pre-fabricated wall panels went up quickly, and initial layers of the roof will be finished in September.

Once it's enclosed, “the rest is just going to fly,” Ronto said.

The pool's heating, ventilation and air conditioning system will be installed once the roof is completed. Crews also will start on interior work, such as the reversed lighting system, locker rooms and flooring. All of the major concrete pours are finished for pool vessels except one final pour for the lazy river.

“Everything has been going really smoothly,” said Carrie Parmer, city aquatics superintendent, during the tour.

Tour-goers represented a variety of interest groups, including the Powell City Council, Park County School District No. 1, Powell Recreation Department, Park County Recreation District, the Board of Cooperative Educational Services and the Powell Pool Committee.

Hard-hat clad city councilmen and Mayor Scott Mangold were happy with the construction progress.

“I'm excited about it. I'd like to get in and use it,” Mangold said. “I think this will create a huge interest for swimming in Powell. This community deserves something new and unique. Driving by the old one, it looks drab now.”

The new pool will feature amenities the old one lacks, such as a lazy river and recreation area with water features.

The river's water pressure and flow can be regulated so swimmers can exercise by moving against the current.

“There was some controversy over the lazy river, but I think that's going to be the most used area of the swimming pool,” Mangold said. He added that, in aquatic facilities in Pinedale and other towns, lazy rivers are consistently booked.

“Kids are going to be surprised that they can exercise and have fun at the same time,” Mangold said.

He said that though community members didn't agree on the pool's design, he thinks it will be a facility that benefits Powell.

“We came up with a consensus that the majority of people will be pleased with,” Mangold said.

Karen Roles, a former Powell High School swim coach who was involved with the planning and design process, agreed that it will be a beneficial aquatic center.

“I think the community will really enjoy the facility. It has a lot to offer for families and for wellness,” she said.

Some tour-goers were concerned that there wasn't enough room in the recreation pool for water aerobics and others worried about space on the deck for bleachers.

Ronto said the design evolved from the original plans, but added that people had a chance to peruse the design before it was finalized.

“Everyone had the opportunity to review the final set of plans that went out to bid,” Ronto said.

After walking through the facility, City Councilman Josh Shorb said he expects community members young and old will be pleased with the final product.

“Some people weren't completely sold on design aspects, but I think the public will be really impressed when it's finished,” Shorb said.

Completion is expected in late February or early March 2010. The project was delayed last spring when engineers detected a problem with the aggregate. The original aggregate contained too much fine substance, but the new material meets specifications.

The 1-cent capital facilities tax voters passed to pay for the pool covers $7 million of the pool's $9.25 million estimated construction cost. Additional funding for construction came from the State Loan and Investment Board, the Powell Recreation District, the Park County Recreation District, The Moyer Trust Fund and Park County School District No. 1.

Park County Recreation approved its $100,000 contribution to the project last week.

The city will pay an estimated $950,000 in hard costs at the aquatic center site to provide infrastructure — water and sewer lines, electricity, asphalt and other necessary elements.

That $950,000 will come from the city's reserve funding.

The pool will receive a total of $9 million through the capital facilities tax, which was passed by Park County voters in 2006. The $2 million above the $7 million for construction costs will go toward an endowment fund to help cover operating and maintenance costs for the pool facility.

“For the money we had, we're getting a lot of bang for our buck,” Mangold said.

City leaders expect the first year will be spent ironing out details as the pool begins operating.

“There will be some kinks at the start,” Mangold said.

The fee structure and usage schedule — with Powell schools, swim teams, Northwest College, Powell Valley Hospital, Powell Recreation Department and other entities sharing the facility — still needs to be established.

“I hope everyone can come together and work out usage issues and find solutions to really make it a facility that works for everyone,” Roles said.

During the tour, Councilmen Jim Hillberry and Floyd Young said they've heard that people in the community are ready to get in and swim.

“They want it to get finished so they can come in and see it,” Hillberry said. “People at the fair asked me, ‘When will we be able to get to the pool?'”