Pasco City Council mulls if replacing pools worth the money

By Michelle Dupler, Tri-City HeraldAugust 14, 2012 

It would cost $1 million to $4 million each to replace the aging Kurtzman and Richardson pools in Pasco, and on Monday the city council asked the question: Is it worth it?

The two swimming pools were built in the 1960s and underwent renovations in the 1980s, but they now are plagued with major cracks, plumbing and electrical failures and an inability of filtration systems to keep the water as clean as state health regulations require, a staff report to the council said.

The doors are rusting off of the bath houses, which also need new roofs.

And Richardson pool experienced a major pump failure that left the pool closed for the rest of this summer, the staff report stated.

"We've patched, and we've patched, and we've patched. We can't put Bondo on the bottom anymore," Rick Terway, the city's administrative and community services director, told the council Monday night.

City Manager Gary Crutchfield told the Herald that he questions whether the city should spend the money to rebuild the two pools, which would be necessary "just to keep them from completely falling apart."

Plus, there is the operating cost -- about $90,000 per pool during the summer season -- that comes out of the city's coffers since users pay just $1 per visit but it cost $13.76 per user to operate the pools in 2011.

Crutchfield said he would rather see swimmers diverted to the larger, more cost-effective Memorial Pool -- which costs just $3.61 per user to operate because it attracts about four times the number of swimmers -- and look at converting Kurtzman pool into a spray park while closing Richardson.

A consultant's study showed the spray park conversion would cost $300,000 to $600,000, compared with the minimum $1.1 million cost to replace one of the pools.

Councilman Bob Hoffmann said he would rather see one pool first become a spray park and see how that works before deciding about the second pool.

He said Richardson might be the better option because it's in worse shape, but Crutchfield responded that Kurtzman is a better candidate because Richardson is close to Memorial Pool, while Kurtzman is the only option in east Pasco.

"Maybe some neighborhood conversations would help," Crutchfield said, noting the Parks & Recreation Advisory Council recommended getting residents involved in discussions about what happens to the pools.

Mayor Pro Tem Rebecca Francik said that having a decision from the Pasco Public Facilities District on the possibility of converting TRAC into an aquatic center would be helpful to discussions about the two neighborhood pools.

But Crutchfield said TRAC would be a different kind of facility that would cost more to use than the Kurtzman or Richardson pools and wouldn't replace those pools' functions for residents.

"Even if it's at TRAC, that's a long way from east Pasco," Crutchfield said.

Monday's meeting was a workshop, and no decisions were made.

-- Michelle Dupler: 582-1543; mdupler@tricityherald.com

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