The Pasco City Council is considering demolishing two of the city's three outdoor swimming pools after being told it would be "a complete waste of money" to make extensive repairs or improvements.
City Manager Gary Crutchfield said Pasco faces a real risk of numerous safety hazards and other issues "in trying to use what is there."
In a memo sent to council members in advance of Monday night's meeting, Crutchfield said they should follow staff recommendations to close Kurtzman and Richardson pools and raze the facilities at an estimated cost of $60,000.
The city would continue to operate the public pool at Memorial Park, while working to get a spray park installed at Kurtzman Park later this year and another spray park at Richardson Park in 2014. Crutchfield added that the Kurtzman spray park wouldn't be done by summer as they initially had hoped.
"I think it's time that the city accept the fact that we got our money's worth out of them," Crutchfield said at Monday's meeting. "The city can no longer afford having pools in every neighborhood. We think we need to bite the bullet and demolish the pools."
He proposed the council think about setting up bus passes so kids living in outlying neighborhoods could get to the centrally located Memorial Park on West Shoshone Street, between 14th and 17th avenues.
Memorial has a 50-meter lap pool, a leisure pool, two slides and multiple play features, according to the city's website.
Rick Terway, the city's administrative and community services director, has suggested replacing the antiquated pools with spray parks, while pushing forward with plans to get a regional aquatic center.
The two Pasco pools to be demolished were built in the 1960s and underwent renovations in the 1980s, but now are plagued with major cracks and failures with the pool gutter, water pipes, heater and filtration system, which can't keep the water as clean as state health regulations require.
The Richardson pool was closed in the middle of last summer because of a major pump failure, which would cost more than $5,000 to repair. The pool is on West Richardson Street between 19th and 20th avenues.
Kurtzman's facility was broken into multiple times last year because the doors, and frames and walls supporting the doors, are in need of replacement, Terway said. Kurtzman is on Wehe Avenue at Alton Street in east Pasco.
"Basically we're at the point where if we fix one thing, another thing breaks," he said.
It would cost millions to replace the pools. The spray parks would cost $300,000 to $600,000 each, depending on what features are included.
Costs to demolish the pools will run about $34,350 for Kurtzman because it has an additional wading pool, and $28,500 for Richardson, where the wading pool was removed years ago, according to Terway's report.
City staff hired Tri-City Home Inspections of Kennewick to evaluate if Kurtzman could open this summer.
"After the inspection, the inspector stated that the building was not worth the amount of repairs needed to bring it up to a safe standard," Terway wrote in his report. That would include a complete new filtration and pumping system.
Since the inspection only cost $150, Councilman Al Yenney asked staff to have them also look at Richardson.
Yenney said it appears a number of problems were created by leaking roofs and related issues, and wishes they had been better maintained so they wouldn't be facing this decision now. He added that he hopes they can keep Richardson open, and wants a paper trail on all the pool maintenance decisions that have been made in the recent past.
Councilman Bob Hoffmann asked Terway if he could give a tour of the facilities for a couple of members at a time so they can better understand the problems and be able to explain the situation to their constituents.
Mayor Pro-Tem Rebecca Francik said it is sad to see an end to the small neighborhood pools, but demolishing them "is the financially savvy thing to do."
Mayor Matt Watkins pointed out that the city has long said it would replace the two pools with spray parks because of the substantial improvements needed.
"I don't know that we're losing anything here. I think we're changing," Watkins said. "I'm saddened to see them go, but I think they're beyond their design life, so it's time to demolish."
After Monday's discussion, Crutchfield said the city will hold off on the demolition for now, since there is some interest on the topic and he will have staff arrange the tours for individual council members. He said he also will see how quickly the city can get an inspection at Richardson and will report back on the findings.
Council members also should have options for the spray parks, including prices, within the month, Crutchfield said.