Sunset Hills officials weighing options to replace city’s existing swimming pool

Special Projects Committee to discuss aquatic center proposals on Aug. 13

By VINCENT BRENNAN

Sunset Hills officials are considering options for a new aquatic center.

The city’s Special Projects Committee will present options for the new pool to the Board of Aldermen during a workshop at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 13, at City Hall, 3939 S. Lindbergh Blvd.

The current pool is on the grounds of Watson Trails Park, 12512 W. Watson Road, and at more than 20 years old, city officials have decided an upgrade was due.

The new pool will be on the same site as the existing pool, but an exact description of the pool has yet to be finalized.

Of the proposed concepts presented at the July 29 meeting of the city’s Special Projects Committee, none were given the panel’s approval.

All of the concepts included plans for a leisure pool accompanied with a six- or eight-lane competitive pool fit for swim teams and meets.

Darren Bevard of Counsilman-Hunsaker, the company responsible for designing the new pool, proposed various aquatic amenities like a lazy river and spray ground.

The amenities differed from each concept plan, but the shape of the leisure pool remained largely consistent.

The first option, while the most expensive at $4.2 million, is also the most extensive at more than 7,300 square feet with the inclusion of a lazy river, two waterslides, a vortex pool and spray-ground features.

Option two was moderately cut back in size of the leisure pool from option one, but included most of the amenities, except the lazy river.

The projected total for the second option is $3.9 million. The leisure pool was sized less than 5,000 square feet.

The third was similar in cost and size to the second option, but included a current channel over a water basketball hoop and water volleyball proposed in the second.

While the final budget for the project has yet to be determined, the committee, led by Chairman and Ward 2 Alderman John Littlefield, toyed with various ideas for cutting costs on the project.

“We’re just fighting money right now,” Littlefield said. “The $3.9 (million) is the problem, and we have to go the other way.”

One of the most discussed ways of reducing the price of the pool would be to shrink the size of the “zero-entry” section of the pool, where the deck of the pool gradually enters the water.

The various amenities drive up the cost of the proposed options, and the committee members contemplated removing certain features or replacing them with suitable replacements.

Bevard concluded that he was hesitant to create more designs without the board solidifying the budget for the project.

“We need to identify a budget for the design,” Bevard stated. “Once that is done, we can begin to move forward.”

The funding for the project will primarily come from Proposition P funds. Prop P was approved by voters in April 2007 and contributed a half-cent increase in sales tax. While Prop P has a 20-year life, it is expected to generate a total of $11 million to $13 million to improve parks and storm-water problems within the city.

Ward 1 Alderman Frank Hardy reiterated some of the problems that the committee is having with the process.

“The current pool is 20 years old, and we’d like to replace it with something nice,” Hardy said.

Hardy also knows that money will be the deciding factor in the decision. He compared it to shopping for a car.

“Even though you want the Cadillac, you might only be able to buy the Ford,” Hardy said.