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Pool won't last forever, so what's next?

March 22, 2010

The Elm Grove village pool has already made it 10 years passed its expected life span, and although a protective liner has extended its usefulness, it may be time to start looking at what it will take to keep the pool operational in years to come, a village committee has decided.

And that just might lead to a discussion about what the village should do after this one fails.

Trustee Jack Nelson said constructing a new pool and renovating the pool house to meet federal standards is a multi-million dollar project that would requiring advance financial planning. In addition, designing and engineering a new pool takes time.

"There doesn't get to be a much bigger project in the village than this," he said. "This is a wonderful amenity, but it doesn't last forever."

At the request of the Recreation Committee, Elm Grove staff members are looking into the options for determining the pool's condition and life expectancy.

Built in the early 1960s, the concrete pool is showing its age, Recreation Director Amy Jeske said. However, the liner, scheduled for replacement next year, is hiding the pool's surfaces.

Once the liner is taken off next year, engineers will be able to examine those surfaces, but that won't help detect problems that may exist below the concrete deck or in other parts of the pool system, she said.

That information would help the village plan for the future.

"I think it's a matter of when and how we want to go about the process," Jeske said. "Do we want to just keep replacing things until (the pool fails)?"

Committee members said they feel the pool is important to the community and planning ahead is necessary. They will review options for studying the pool once staff has finished compiling the information.

The discussion is beginning just as residents in neighboring Wauwatosa have received approval to build a new pool at Hoyt Park.

In 2003, Milwaukee County had deemed the cost of maintaining the pool at Hoyt too onerous and shut it down.

A nonprofit coalition of Wauwatosa community members in 2007 began raising funds and accepting donations in order to pay the multimillion dollar cost of building a new pool. So far, the group has raised $6.2 million in private donations and $1.5 million from the county for infrastructure purposes.

Their new pool is estimated to cost $8 million. Additional fundraising for the remaining costs and non-necessities like diving boards, a waterslide and tot waterplay equipment is planned.

The Hoyt Park pool is expected to open on Memorial Day 2011.

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