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Diving in: Downsized pool plans get initial OK

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Greenwood unveiled its final aquatic center plans: three separate bodies of water, including a zero-entry leisure pool and a winding lazy river for inner tubing, with three twisting water slides between them, and a lap pool nearby.

The design presented this week is a trimmed version of what the city started with last year after efforts to reduce costs, city attorney Krista Taggart said. The project was designed to be built in Freedom Park to replace the 55-year-old pool downtown that the city closed in 2012.

Designer Banning Engineering eliminated from the plans a pool area for playing basketball and volleyball and a section of the lazy river that would have had a waterfall pouring onto swimmers. The company also took out a separate area for diving to reduce the number of lifeguards, chemicals and water needed to operate the aquatic center, she said. The current designs use about 2.5 acres of Freedom Park for the aquatic center and approximately 2.4 acres for parking nearby.

The goals were to keep the project within the $10 million construction budget set by the city redevelopment commission, which is funding the project, and also reduce the estimated operating costs to try to make the aquatic center financially self-sufficient, city controller Adam Stone said.

The city park board approved the pool plans Monday, and the redevelopment commission approved them Tuesday.

The city can now send the pool plans out for companies to bid on, Taggart said. But the mayor wants the city council to find a way to pay for the $200,000 annual operating shortfall before the pool is built.

Thom Hord, who serves on both the city council and redevelopment commission, said the approval by the redevelopment commission to let the project go forward was not an approval to build the pool.

The city was trying to design a pool it could operate without losing money, but even a plain pool without the slides and lazy river would operate at a loss, Stone said. He recently began studying the costs of operating the city’s aquatic park, and the city also hired pool engineering company Counsilman-Hunsaker to project the expenses and income for it.

The conclusion of Counsilman-Hunsaker was that the pools would be used for swimming lessons, water aerobics and other programs, but the lazy river would be the biggest draw for swimmers.

If Greenwood builds the aquatic center as planned and opens it in May 2015, the city will spend about $200,000 per year more than the pool earns, according to the Counsilman-Hunsaker study.

Before operating costs could be estimated, the designs had to be done, Taggart said.

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