OGDEN — Despite some recent upgrades, Ogden’s Marshall White Center is still in need of millions of dollars in repair.
And while the city continues to study how to fund improvements — or possibly build a new recreation center altogether — formally putting the issue before voters might be an option.
Ogden Mayor Mike Caldwell said the city is working with a consultant called Pathways and Associates to study a number of issues related to a city rec center: cost, size, programming, location and the possibility of raising funds for it through a voter-approved bond.
Caldwell said the firm was recommended by the Young Men’s Christian Association — more commonly known as the YMCA, or simply “The Y.”
The city has engaged in discussions with the YMCA about opening a Northern Utah recreational facility in Ogden. Members of the city council and administration have also been to Boise and Denver to tour a handful of different YMCA facilities. 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.
Discussions about a city rec center have ramped up ever since five large cracks were discovered in the Marshall White Center pool in early 2018. 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 discovered.
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. A consulting company called Water Design, Inc. recommended the city either replace the pool altogether, or repurpose it and use it from something other than swimming. Initial cost estimates to renovate the pool are between $1.9 million and $2.7 million, according to council documents.
The Marshall White pool was well-used, with swimming lessons, water aerobics, kayaking and open-swim sessions all offered there. The community pool was also used by the Morgan High School swim team and the Ogden Preparatory Academy. Most of the programming at the city-run pool was moved to pools at Ben Lomond and Ogden High Schools.
With one of the center’s most popular features out of commission indefinitely, Caldwell said the city is faced with some urgent choices. During the next few months, the city will start holding public meetings to gather community input on the Marshall White and a possible YMCA facility.
“We want this to be a robust process,” Caldwell said. “I don’t see it being us just presenting information and trying to get buy-in, I see it being an open dialogue with the community.”
The city appropriated $421,000 for the Marshall White Center last year, money that will pay for a new roof, a new parking lot at the center, refinished indoor basketball gym floors, new scoreboards and bleachers and expanded boxing facilities.
Ogden City took over management of the 52-year-old Marshall White facility in 2015 after fiver years of management from the Ogden-Weber Community Action Partnership.