Highland News Leader

Highland Parks director looks ahead after city council halts plan for new pool

The Highland Community Pool reopened for swimming lessons this morning and will be open to the public at its regular time today, 1 p.m.
The Highland Community Pool reopened for swimming lessons this morning and will be open to the public at its regular time today, 1 p.m. News Leader File Photo

A plan to replace and relocate Highland’s local swimming pool, located in Lindendale Park, was put on hold indefinitely by the city council Monday.

Council approval was sought at the meeting for a roughly $38,000 feasibility study for the project that would determine the best way to go about replacing the more than 35-year-old pool.

Highland Parks and Recreation Director Mark Rosen, who brought the request for the study through FGM Architects Inc. forward, said the need for a pool first arose in 2013 when it was put into the comprehensive plan of what the city may need down the line. In 2016, it was brought up again.

The pool, which had its 37th year of operation last year, had an expected lifespan of 20 years.

Rosen said while the problems at the pool might not be obvious on the exterior, every year he wonders if the department will be able to open it.

“When you’re standing outside the pool and looking in it looks like there’s nothing wrong, but it’s when you start getting into the infrastructure that problems appear,” Rosen said. “I was disappointed because there are some real problems with the pool. Every year when it comes time to open it I’m wondering if we will be able to.”

Now, Rosen said he is looking ahead to the future of the pool, which currently has a laundry list of issues. At the top of that list is meeting requirements with the Americans Disability Act, which the pool currently meets.

The pool also is losing water through a leak Rosen said could be identified in the spring. The pool deck also is sinking and now “ponding’”water that can lead to algae without regular cleaning.

In addition to those problems, Rosen said the baby pool has daily plumbing issues and other smaller problems.

One of the council’s major hangups was the idea of relocating the pool. Rosen said the location of the pool is difficult because it often shares proximity with the Highland Speedway and annual fairs.

Rosen said both affect the pool’s attendance figures and can make parking a challenge. Scheduling swim meets would be easier if the pool wasn’t working on the speedway and fair schedules, he said.

Rosen said he hopes to provide cost estimates for necessary repairs when he makes his department’s budget presentation in February.

“We’ll proceed from there and maybe revisit this at budget time and perhaps explain it a little bit more in detail,” Rosen said. “But maybe next year we can see where we’re at with other projects in town and go from there.”

Rosen has worked at the pool since 1982, around the time the pool was last renovated, and said he understands the pool’s importance in Lindendale Park.

“If it (the pool) would happen to be relocated somewhere else I’d want to put a splash pad or a spray ground in the spot where the pool is now so there’s still a water feature in the area where people can go with their kids and families,” Rosen said. “We don’t want to take that service away from them..”

He added that he hopes the pool project can come up again in the future.

“We try to look at where Highland will be in 10 or15 years and we have to kind of plan for that,” Rosen said. “We don’t necessarily want it to be a local neighborhood pool, we want it to be a destination.”

Kavahn Mansouri covers government accountability for the Belleville News-Democrat, holding officials and institutions accountable and tracking how taxpayer money is spent.

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