Ogden High Pool gets $3.5 million upgrade approval

Nov 29 2013 - 6:13pm

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OGDEN -- After conducting online surveys about the Ogden High School pool upgrade and gathering public opinions at an open house, the Ogden school board has approved plan C, the most expensive of the three options presented.

Plan C comes with a cost estimate of $3,584,300, and includes a pool 250 square feet larger than the present pool, with two additional swim lanes for a total of eight. It adds a three-meter diving board on a platform proposed with a climbing wall on one side. The pool will also be deeper, with a 7-foot depth at the shallow end. Locker rooms, handicapped accessibility, acoustics, and heating and cooling will all be improved, as will unseen elements, such as the pool's support structure, pipes and filter systems.

In addition, the board approved an additional room enlargement to the east, expanding the space onto what is now a patio, to create a "staging area" for swimmers on visiting teams, for an additional cost to be determined. The school board nixed a further extension that would have added extra bathroom facilities and a concession stand.

The board vote this week was 4-3 in favor of option C, with those who opposed it voicing concerns about the project's high cost and lack of family friendly features. The Ben Lomond High School pool, the next to be improved, will be designed as a family oriented space, board members have said.

"The comments I got were that we should not do this on the cheap, and that people want a pool that matches the school," said Superintendent Brad Smith. "They supported doing a full remodel."

Board president Shane Story said people who attended the open house were 82 percent in favor of pool option C, and people who filled out surveys were 72 percent in favor of the option. Story said no one voted for option A, the cheapest of the three, which featured repairs and more limited improvements, and came with a $2.4 million estimated price tag.

Smith said he sees Ogden High's facility as a "swimmers' pool," likely to draw regional competitions. He said the district intends to make a "similar investment in a family pool" at Ben Lomond. Board member Don Belnap pointed out that the Ogden High project will be using more than half of the $6 million that Ogden voters approved when they supported a property tax increase.

Story said if the two-pool project takes more than the $6 million it could still be paid off with the tax levy, but would just take longer. The tax increase, to fund the two pools' renovation and improvement and their ongoing operational costs, was originally presented to voters as probably temporary, and likely to be reduced once building expenses had been covered and only ongoing operational funds were needed.

Smith said before this year's June 25 special election that the voted local tax levy could not be written as a temporary measure, and it would be up to people sitting on the board at the end of the six-year-period to determine whether to reduce the tax. District business administrator Eugene N. Hart said this week that the voted local tax increase is expected to bring in a little less than $1 million per year.

Board member Joyce Wilson expressed disappointment at the special board meeting that some child-friendly feature was not added to the Ogden High project to make the pool more attractive for neighborhood families' use. Belnap said he preferred pool option B, which would cost an estimated $2.9 million and offer repairs and an intermediate level of improvements.

Story said it didn't seem reasonable to him to seek public opinion only to disregard it.

"We shouldn't say, 'No, we know better,'" Story said. "We know the money will come in."

Smith said with the board's approval, he hopes work by the architecture firm Naylor Wentworth Lund can begin before Christmas.

Contact reporter Nancy Van Valkenburg at 801-625-4275 or nvan@standard.net. Follow her on Twitter at @S_ENancyVanV.

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