Truman pool audit findings encouraging, Simpson says

Pool at Truman built in 1962; shut down by district in 2006

By Mike Anthony

Superintendent Jim Simpson says Lindbergh Schools officials are encouraged by the results of an engineering audit to determine whether the Truman Middle School swimming pool can reopen.

The audit results were unveiled last week at the Sunset Hills City Hall by Kevin Post of Counsilman-Hunsaker & Associates of Sunset Hills, which performed the engineering study.

Lindbergh Schools and Sunset Hills have entered into a joint agreement to investigate the feasibility of creating an indoor swimming facility, utilizing the pool at Truman, which closed in April 2006.

The cost to reopen the Truman pool, which Lindbergh constructed in 1962 as a six-lane, 25-yard lap pool, ranges from $459,955 to $551,946, according to the study. Needed repairs would include a full renovation of the pool’s mechanical equipment, including the filtration system, plus upgrades to comply with current safety codes and requirements of the Americans With Disabilities Act.

The cost of constructing a new six-lane pool would be roughly $4.8 million, the study determined.

“We were encouraged by the pool audit. There were several things that stuck with me in that. One is that if you built the Truman pool new, it would be over $4 million,” Simpson told the Call. “But you can refurbish the existing pool to that level for a little over $500,000. So that value is pretty much evident there. That was, I thought, a very key point.

“And I think also the fact that the partnership between Sunset Hills and Lindbergh Schools on this project, I think is a model if it all goes to plan how you can improve the quality of life in a community using two government organizations working as partners …”

The possibility of obtaining a roughly $400,000 grant from the Municipal Park Grant Commission of St. Louis County is another positive, he said, noting the commission looks favorably upon collaborative efforts between government entities.

“… We think this is somewhat of a model how major projects, costly projects, can be shouldered by multiple government entities to get something done …,” Simpson said.

Besides the estimated cost of $459,955 to $551,946, Post also recommended a structural evaluation of the pool shell be commissioned, along with other considerations.

“… Beyond what we covered, there’s also some additional considerations that need to be given if this pool’s going to be opened to the public, and that would be on the mechanical side, looking at the heating, air conditioning, dehumidification. Also, pool water heating, make sure that’s available,” he said.

Other considerations include an evaluation of electrical needs, pool lighting, deck-drain plumbing, overhead lighting levels and sewer-capacity requirements.

“… So all of those beyond what we itemized to get the pool up and running should also be considered for the building envelope itself,” Post said.

Ward 2 Alderman Tom Musich asked Post, “During your evaluation, did you look at any of the outside structures that may or may not be necessary to change in order to have a shared type of a process between the school and the public?”

Post said that issue was examined, and the best approach would be a separate entrance that residents could use.

“Because of the location, it’s possible that you could actually have, by adding new locker rooms and entrance, which would be additional cost also beyond what we’ve talked about, having its own dedicated entrance to one side and the school could come in through the (existing) locker rooms …,” he said.

Musich asked, “Any estimates on that figure?”

Post replied, “Typically, you’re looking about, between probably $200 and $250 a square foot for construction of that type of a building — the locker room areas being at the higher end, the lobby being at the lower end.”

When this issue was discussed by the Board of Education last fall, Karl Guyer, executive director of planning and development, said a separate entrance would be required for residents’ use.

“There would need to be a separate area to allow community people to come in and use the pool facility, separate from the student locker rooms, much like we have on the high school campus, where we have two separate sets of locker area …,” he said. “We would need that kind of separation for our kids at that location …”

Parks and Recreation Director Gerald Brown said the $7,500 cost of the engineering audit was funded by a $4,000 Municipal Park Grant Commission planning grant with the remaining cost split evenly by the city and the school district.

Before Post’s presentation, Brown said, “… It’s not going to cover what we’re going to do next. What are the next phases? What’s the next step? What’s the discussion? None of that has been done. None of that has been brought to the park board, the Board of Aldermen …”

Simpson told the Call the audit is just the first step in the process and does not commit the city and school district to moving forward.

“… It’s a stepwise process. It will finally come to the point where the Sunset Hills Board of Aldermen has to approve this, and then the Lindbergh school board will have to approve it,” he said.

If both bodies decide to proceed, the next step would be to apply for a grant to help fund the cost of the project at the school, 12225 Eddie & Park Road.

“… There are some things Sunset Hills has to think about … They do need an addition onto that pool for the separate entrance so we can keep the adults separate from the students, and that layout with the dog park really works because the dog park’s right there with its own parking lot …”

For Lindbergh, Simpson said the next step is to inform the board “that the engineering study on the pool is complete and here’s the funding that would be needed to make this pool a go, and get their opinion on that, and are they interested in walking to the next step along with Sunset Hills? …”

The board also would have to consider the additional costs not covered in the engineering study, such as “new lighting, new painting, new air conditioning. That’s not in the pool study,” he noted.

Revenue for maintenance and other costs would be generated by Sunset Hills residents who use the facility, and competitive swim clubs, including the Flyers Aquatic Swim Team, have expressed an interest in renting the facility for practices and competition, the superintendent said.