The Newport City Council was shown what four months of public input and design preparation has produced for the proposed new Newport Municipal Pool which is likely to be on this November’s ballot. The current version as you see it here on the left is expected to run around seven and a half million dollars.
Newport Parks and Recreation Department Director Jim Protiva said the new pool would replace the current one which has been used for fifty years and is on it’s last legs. It suffered a major system failure last February and was closed for two months for repairs. Public Works Director Tim Gross has stated often that he cannot vouch for the pool for any extended period of time because of it’s advanced age. He said it’s got old plumbing, deteriorating concrete, tired machinery, a very weathered building along with a quite dated heating and air conditioning system. He said the next major breakdown could be the end of the facility because repairing it would not be cost effective.
Protiva said the new pool design and layout has been run through many public meetings over the past four months. He said the design addresses the major functions of the pool – Water Safety Training and Instruction, Recreation, Fitness, Competition and Therapy. Therapy involves a hot tub. There is also a provision for a water slide. Councilor David Allen said he questions the desirability for either of those. Protiva said both are very low cost items that create broad appeal for youth as well as those in therapy who use hot tubs to promote joint and muscle health. Protiva said both combined cost just over $200,000 – a small fraction of the total cost of the facility and desired by many participants during the public discussions. However, if the issues become controversial Protiva said they can be left out and added later, although the cost would be higher. They might also be funded by grants or private donations.
Protiva added that the pool’s location next to the City Recreation Center means that the new pool can be added without adding costs because although there will be more lifeguards, the recreation center control desk can also run and monitor the pool with no additional staff.
Protiva said at first blush the pool being built next to the recreation center AND city hall could pose parking problems. “Not necessarily,” he said. Protiva maintains that the city could add 18 head-in parking spaces on Benton Street. City Hall employees could also be asked to park on Angle or in the 9th and Hurbert parking lot in order to free up more parking close to the pool and recreation center. Other parking options are also being explored. He said the Parks and Recreation Department would be in charge of scheduling special events between the three facilities (if the pool is approved) thereby ensuring that event competition for parking will be kept to a minimum.
Protiva said the pool would be an eight lane competition pool, with a warm water pool next to it. Next to that would be a smaller therapy pool which would be used primarily by Newport’s older residents. There would also be greatly expanded spectator seating for locals as well as for out of town swim teams and their families and friends, of which there would be more throughout the year due to the expanded facilities.
Protiva said he would re-review the issue of the waterslide, again maybe with an eye to finding a grant or a private donor. However, he took note again that it would be a prime attraction for out of town visitors who arrive in Newport when it’s windy, rainy or both. It provides an “added attraction,” he said but if it’s the council’s desire to leave it out of the package, so be it.
He said he’ll return with more information or slightly different choices at the next city council meeting July 15th.