Below are answers to questions the Recreation District has received about the Icabone Pool and the concepts presented for its replacement.
- How much will the cost be for the pools as shown in the designs?
The cost to build just the pools will be around $2.5 to $3 million. The entire project cost from demolition to completion is estimated to be around $10-$11 million. This price includes demolition, site prep, design fees, permits, bath house, mechanical room, and all equipment.
This cost estimate is accurate when compared with the current project in Carbondale. They are demolishing their 44-year-old facility and constructing a multiple pool design similar to what has been proposed. It has multiple bodies of water, a new building, play equipment, slides, and landscaping. They have a budget of $8 million and with current construction costs had to scale back the lap pool from six lanes to three. They needed a budget closer to $9 million. When factoring in inflation for a 2025 build, the cost will be around $10-$11 million. We also have a larger population than Carbondale and will need a larger facility. There is also no existing funding mechanism to replace the Icabone Swimming Pool. It is at the end of its life and now it is up to the community to determine where to go next.
- Does the cost to replace the Icabone Pool include demolition of the current structure and site prep?
The cost for the project does include demolition. However, if the community is looking for a way to save money on the project, this is it. If local businesses would handle the demolition that might reduce the cost in this phase. This is something we could do locally.
- I have heard an Olympic sized pool can be constructed for $500,000. If that is the case, why is this pool so much more expensive?
This number is not accurate at all. The cost for a commercial Olympic sized pool is more than $3 million. That is just for the pool.
- Why are commercial public pools so expensive now?
The commercial pool market is a niche market because there are just a few commercial pool builders and designers nationwide. The equipment used for installation is also expensive. These are but two of the factors impacting the escalating costs for construction seen over the last nine years. Costs have more than doubled from the $180-$200 per square foot for a commercial pool to now $400 or above. The cost could be as high as $450 per square foot by 2025. There has been such a large increase in construction costs it is hard to estimate, but it won't be less than $400 per square foot.
- Will this design serve a community our size?
This design was created to serve a community of up to 30,000 people. It features a dedicated lap pool, a recreational pool, slides, play structures, and a new bath house and mechanical building. This is a standard design for what is being constructed today to serve multiple demographic groups and provide more programming options, such as warm water therapy.
- Why not build a pool just like we had?
The old L-shape of the 1950's and 60's is not used anymore. It is an antiquated design approach. Technology and creativity in commercial pool design have changed to a point where they plan facilities to serve a wider array of customers with bodies of water designed for all age groups. Zero entry is an example. Not only is it easier for a person of any age to enter the pool, it has essentially replaced the need for a separate wading pool. Lap pools haven't changed too much through the years, but they are now programmed better. They not only have diving boards, but basketball hoops, volleyball nets, climbing walls, zip lines and other components have been added. Yes, there is still a lap component, but outside of lap and competition swimming it has created additional programming. These modern designs are preferred by people in communities across the country.
- Do the designs meet current programming standards for a public pool?
Yes they do. Some would say this is a water park type design. That is incorrect. Having multiple bodies of water is today's design standard, especially for a community our size. The designs also take into account all current regulations for a commercial pool. The argument can be made both concepts are basic, not a water park or Rolls Royce.
- What is the projected life expectancy of the new facility?
A facility like this is designed to last 50+ years. You will need to plan to replace some equipment around every 10 years. This is if the facility is constructed by a commercial pool builder. On average a backyard pool builder will design a facility that will last 20 years. We want to invest in something that will last for several generations. Keep in mind the Icabone Pool was designed to last 25 to 30 years. It lasted for 57-years thanks to solid maintenance work through the years. Now commercial pools are built to last over 50 years. Only time will tell if we can get the same type of return on investment.
- Why can't the community simply build a pool with the businesses we have in town?
This is something that is simply not done. When you build a backyard pool there is one code to meet. For a commercial facility, there are as many as ten different codes you must meet and they don't always play nice with each other. You need a commercial pool designer and builder to get you through this process to have a facility that will meet code and last 50+ years. This is not a project that can be done with a community build mentality. The one part of the project which can be done by local contractors is demolition. This is where some cost savings could come in to play.
- How much more expensive would a year-round facility be?
This is where the project can become complicated. There are at least 15 different types of shells that can be placed over a body of water, but you will need to add an HVAC system. The cheapest enclosures will run around $100 per square foot. There are also options such as upsizing the heaters, similar to what resort hotels in the mountains do to keep their outdoor pools open year-round. If you are looking for a brick-and-mortar structure that will add at least $5 million to the price for construction.
Based on community feedback, the feasibility study will tell us which direction to go, seasonal or outdoor. In choosing a year-round option, the operating cost of the facility will be higher as utilities, staffing, and maintenance will no longer be just seasonal concerns.
- Is there a repair option for the existing facility?
Unfortunately, the answer to this question is no. Since 1966 this facility has served the community well. Thanks to the dedicated work of maintenance crews and boards of directors, we had an excellent outdoor pool which lasted 57 years (more than double its expected lifespan). Closing the pool was not an easy decision to make, but it was a necessary one for safety reasons. There are issues with the liner, foundation, concrete pad, filtration system, pipes, valves, fittings, bath house, chemical storage, and mechanical room. The pool has reached the end of its life. This is the conclusion of multiple commercial pool engineers, builders and designers. The reports are all available on the District's website here (scroll to the middle of the page).