Limestone still a concern at Holton Pool
As temperatures begin to warm up, so will preparations for another season at the Holton Municipal Swimming pool. But as Holton Parks and Recreation Director Mike Reichle told the Holton City Commission, there are still a few concerns about the pool that need to be addressed — and soon.
During Monday’s commission meeting, Reichle updated commissioners about preparations for the 2015 summer swimming season, including necessary work on the limestone at the pool’s bath house and the hiring of a new manager. Reichle also brought commissioners up to date on other activities in his department, including Linscott Park improvements and the need for a new lawnmower.
Reichle said efforts have been taken in recent years to repair the pool’s bath house, built in 1938 as a WPA project and has been placed on the state’s historical register. The bath house’s exterior wall is constructed of limestone, and while Reichle and others have noted the deteriorating condition of the limestone, he said it continues to hold up.
“I think the stone will last us a while yet,” Reichle told commissioners. “We’re dealing with a 1940s project that I don’t know if you can do too much with it.”
The bath house’s placement on the state’s historical register was done a few years ago so that the city could get some grant funds for exterior repairs on the limestone structure, but Reichle said the city has never received any funds for that purpose. Holton City Manager Bret Bauer added that the application process for funds that will aid in restoring historical structures is “expensive.”
“There are no guarantees at the end,” Bauer said of the grant application process. “And because the bath house is on the historical register, there are a lot of rules and stipulations you have to follow when you’re remodeling, so you don’t jeopardize its integrity.”
What’s in need of the most work now, Reichle told commissioners, is the pool’s concrete deck, which is starting to sink in some places. However, he said that repair work on the deck could be done “with our own people.”
As for the 385,000-gallon pool basin, Reichle said that last fall, it received a new coat of paint — the first it’s received since 2008, it was reported — and there is still some paint and caulking work to be done in the basin prior to this year’s opening day, set for Saturday, May 23.
“We’re confident that we’ll get a few more years out of this pool,” he said.
Another pressing matter at the pool, Reichle said, involves hiring a new manager to replace Drew Porter, who had served in that capacity the past two summers. Commissioner Tim Morris told Reichle that Porter had done “a fabulous job” as pool manager, and Reichle agreed.
“They broke the mold with him,” Reichle said of Porter. “He’s going to be tough to replace.”
However, he told commissioners that he was in the process of interviewing for a new manager, all of the applicants for which have been “pool people” — lifeguards — in previous years, and he noted that it was likely that a new manager would be announced by next week. Furthermore, he said his department has received about 25 applications for lifeguard jobs for the coming summer, with Bauer adding that the positions haven’t yet been advertised.
In other parks and recreation business, commissioners approved the purchase of a new Grasshopper riding lawnmower for Reichle’s department to replace a 2008 model Grasshopper mower that, financially, has been “hitting us pretty hard on upkeep.” The approved bid came from Holton Tire and Service, which bid $9,294.75 for a 2015 model Grasshopper.
In the past two years, commissioners learned, the mower has been responsible for more than $2,800 in maintenance costs — nearly two-thirds of what the department has spent on maintenance in that time. Still, Reichle told commissioners, the Grasshopper brand is “proven” within his department.
The bid for the new mower was not the lowest received, as commissioners also noted bids of $6,825 from Holton Tire and Service and $8,499 from Holton Farm and Home for new mowers. However, Bauer and Reichle noted that those two bids were for mowers where the cutting deck was mounted near the middle of the mower and thus harder to maintain.
The mower that commissioners agreed to purchase, however, has a cutting deck mounted at the front of the unit, which makes it “easier for us to get the blades off” for maintenance, Reichle said. All three bids incorported a $4,500 trade-in for the 2008 Grasshopper, commissioners noted.
Elsewhere in parks and recreation, Reichle told commissioners that registrations for spring youth soccer are being reviewed this week, with team lineups to be decided on Thursday. The spring soccer season’s projected start date is Saturday, March 28, so “hopefully, we have some dry days coming” at Countryside Park, he said.
Other projects on this year’s agenda include resurfacing work at the Linscott Park tennis courts, where Reichle said a Wichita-based contractor is looking at coming to do that work sometime in April or May. He also noted his department is looking at the installation of a fountain at Elkhorn Lake, “which should improve our fishing.”