OGDEN — It’s been a year-and-a-half since the Marshall White Center pool was closed after city officials discovered “catastrophic” cracks developing along its floor.
And while some residents grow weary of the lack of progress on a potential repair, city administrators say an important scenario must play out before spending money to fix it.
Several Marshall White Center users attended Tuesday’s Ogden City Council meeting, pleading for a resolution on the broken community pool.
Sometime before March 5, 2018, the pool developed five large cracks in its concrete surface. Shortly after the cracks were discovered, Ogden City crews analyzed the pool and deemed it unsafe for continued use. Engineers determined the pool was at risk of having a “catastrophic opening,” which could present life safety issues if the water wasn’t drained. The pool has been closed since shortly after the cracks were found.
“The swimming pool was cracked and damaged a year-and-a-half ago,” former pool user Julia Aldridge told the council Tuesday night. “We talked to the city council at that time and they were very enthusiastic and encouraged that the pool was going to be fixed and be a usable facility for Ogden residents. But since then, I don’t believe anything has been done.”
After the pool was drained, the city sought repair and replacement bids from contractors, but those bids came back higher than officials expected, with minimum repair estimates exceeding $500,000.
Ogden Chief Administrative Officer Mark Johnson said the city is exploring the possibility of bringing a totally new indoor recreation center to Ogden. He said a definitive conclusion on that idea must be reached before spending what could be as much as $2 million to fix the Marshall White pool.
“Marshall White is a very, very important building to us,” Johnson said. “We have been in the process of trying to decide whether we need a bigger, better rec center. Unfortunately it’s taken a whole lot more time than we anticipated.”
The city has engaged in discussions with the Young Men’s Christian Association — more commonly known as the YMCA, or simply “The Y” — about opening a Northern Utah recreational facility in Ogden. Earlier this year, members of the city and council and administration took a trip to Denver, touring five different YMCA facilities. Prior to that tour, city officials also visited YMCA facilities in Boise, Idaho.
The organization operates programs out of several Weber and Davis county elementary, junior high and high schools and at Weber State University, but as of yet, has no independent, dedicated athletic facilities in the region.
“That is something we’re still working on and we’re dedicated to,” Johnson said. “I’m hoping we can make progress in the next six months so we can get to the point where will we know if it’s a go or a no go.”
Johnson said if a YMCA does come to Ogden, Marshall White could become satellite recreation center or a cultural center.
“There are a lot of things that could be done there that we’ve just been brainstorming,” Johnson said.
Council member Luis Lopez said Ogden’s underserved population needs a fully-functioning Marshall White Center, because “it’s a matter of physical and mental health.”
“Since before the swimming pool at the Marshall White broke down, I’ve been screaming at the top of my lungs that we need more indoor recreation for underserved communities,” Lopez said. “I think there are pet projects that happen ... and I think a lot of projects for the underserved members of our community get picked last.”