Ashland’s Plans for a New Swimming Pool – To Enclose or Not To Enclose?

New Swimming Pool – To Enclose or Not


By David Runkel


The Parks and Recreation Commission last night directed staff to look into designs, feasibility and the cost of enclosing the projected Daniel Meyer replacement swimming pool.


The action came after Commissioner Justin Adams, supported by Commission Stefi Seffinger, argued that the pool needed to be enclosed so that it could be used during smokey summer months and throughout cold months.  “A four-season pool is needed here in Ashland,” Adams said, adding that in his view It would be a “waste of dollars” to build a new outdoor pool as currently planned. 


“Housing the pool is important for student use,” Seffinger said.  It would allow for the Ashland High School swim and water polo teams to host meets here, she added.


Interim Parks Director Leslie Eldridge said she knew of enclosed pools in Maine and would be working with the city’s pool consultants to respond to the commission’s questions.


Chair Rick Landt noted that because the current pool’s life has been extended for five years with the installation of a liner there was time to reassess the commission’s previous decision, based on an ad hoc committee recommendation, to go with a larger outdoor pool in the current Hunter Park location.


Landt also suggested relocating the pool a short distance closer to the senior center,  making the pool a part of a larger recreation and senior center. He did not receive any support for this concept after Eldridge said moving the pool to a different site would require a whole new set of technical studies. 


The major issue holding up the pool project, however, is the projected $10.5Million cost.  The commission agreed to recontact the city school district and Southern Oregon University about the possibility of cost sharing.  A plan to raise the money from private sources will also be developed.


A fourth concern discussed by the commission was how to heat the pool.  The most expensive plan would be full electric heating and the cheapest would use natural gas.  A combination of the two to lower the costs is also possible, but Commissioner Jim Bachman and perhaps others strongly favor the most energy saving method which would be electric.
The annual cost of natural gas would be $80,329, with no installation cost, according to a chart presented by Eldridge. One all electric water heating system would have an estimated annual cost  $274,188 with a $101,844 installation charge.  Another would cost $138,205 annually to operate with $599,748 installation expenses.   A combination electric with gas as a backup would have annual charges of $100,440 with an installation cost of $535,441.  The issue remains unresolved. 

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