by Debbie Coleman-Topi
If preliminary plans advance, Platte City residents could be swimming in a new municipal pool within the next year few years.
Members of the Platte City Parks and Recreation Board heard the first in a series of presentations by pool engineering firms Monday night during the board's monthly meeting.
The Power Point presentation by a representative of Waters Edge Aquatic Design of Lenexa included information about the cost and possible design features most chosen by cities of comparable size to Platte City.
The projected cost of a pool most like those built in area cities was $4 million to $5 million for a facility featuring seven to 10,000 square feet of water surface and some amenities most common in today's city-operated pools, said Michael Fisher, Waters Edge engineer and project manager.
He told the board that today's city pools are more intricate and feature more amenities such as slides, diving boards, water spray areas, water cannons and “lazy river” floating current channels.
“That's probably sticker shock for you,” he told the board during his presentation. “You are not really going to chisel a lot of that off unless you compromise quality.”
He told the board some cities experience a lengthy process from initial inquiries to completion.
“It usually takes many months, sometimes years—you are without a pool now and probably want one as soon as possible,” he added, referring to a 50-year-old city pool that ceased operation in 2015.
No location for a proposed new pool has been decided upon, officials said. Platte City’s former city swimming pool was located behind City Hall along Fourth Street, a short distance north of Main Street.
While design and construction costs are high, Fisher added that other cities have charged lower tax rates by supplementing the costs with other fees such as paid concessions, programming and rental for events such as pool parties.
City Administrator D.J. Gehrt said the most recent city survey of residents, compiled in 2015, showed that about 68 percent of residents believed that a city pool was important. Of those responding, about 40 to 60 percent were willing to pay $16 to $40 per year to finance a pool.
Respondents rated a pool above other city parks improvements, such as walking trails and increased maintenance of already-existing city parks. About 30 percent were not sure or believed a pool was not important, he said.
During the presentation, board members questioned Fisher about how the size and number of special features affect the cost of operation. Fisher said the number of life guards correlates with the pool size and number of special features. He said life guards represent 60 percent of the cost of operating a pool.
Fisher also cautioned board members about a trap some cities fall into by paying more for bath houses, which provide restrooms, showers and changing areas. He said cities can save money by not opting for the most expensive finishes in such structures because most residents are more concerned with the quality of the pool.
Parks and Recreation Director Dannie Stamper said the board will hear another presentation at next month's meeting, which will be held July 11 rather than the regularly-scheduled first Monday meeting due to the July 4 holiday.