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It’s official: Swimming pool to be closed for the summer

It’s official: Swimming pool to be closed for the summer
Each of the council members expressed disappointment in the decision, but the Charles City City Council voted unanimously to officially close Charles City’s swimming pool for the summer at Monday’s meeting.
Press file photo by Kelly Terpstra
By James Grob,

Each of the council members expressed disappointment in the decision, but the Charles City Council voted unanimously at Monday’s meeting to keep the community swimming pool closed this summer.

The move was advised by the Charles City Park & Recreation Board, which voted unanimously last Thursday to make the recommendation.

Park and Rec Director Tyler Mitchell told the council the same things he had told the park board members last week, and it was clear that COVID-19 requirements put up too many hurdles for the pool to overcome.

Those requirements potentially included requiring face masks, maintaining 6-foot social distancing in the pool and surrounding areas, hiring extra people to enforce the rules, hourly cleaning and disinfecting with products appropriate for use around pools, and limiting the number of people allowed in the pool at any time.

“Anyone who has purchased a 2020 pool pass — those will be accepted in 2021,” Mitchell said. “I know people who purchased them will be wondering if they were out of luck, so I wanted to make sure they knew that.”

Mitchell said staffing could be a problem if the outdoor pool were to open, with fewer people than usual applying for lifeguard and other positions in a year when more people than usual would be needed to meet COVID-19 requirements. Pools must have someone to monitor social distancing at all times, and that person cannot be a lifeguard on duty.

He said even basic lifeguard certification would be a problem, because a pool is needed for that certification and there currently aren’t any swimming pools open in the state.

Mitchell said he believed the Charles City YMCA was waiting on further direction from the state before reopening its indoor pool.

City Administer Steven Diers said the situation was disappointing, because the swimming pool had just refurbished its water slide and acquired new basketball hoops.

“We have all sorts of awesome new stuff, so this really stinks,” Diers said.

Charles City Mayor Dean Andrews suggested this year would be a good time to look at long-term plans for the pool, and Mitchell agreed.

In other business Monday, the council approved a contract with RDG Planning and Design for restroom facilities at the Charles City Arts Center. To maintain consistency with the design requirements for the historic building, the city will retain the architect to prepare the plans and specifications for a new restroom. The CCAC will fund the construction cost of the improvement.

RDG Planning and Design has been used in the past by the city for design work on the Carnegie library building. In addition to the restroom design, there have been issues with excess moisture in the basement area. RDG will review the cause for potential moisture damage and provide recommendations on diminishing this problem.

The total project services are divided into phases. Schematic design covers the restroom design for a lump sum fee 0f $7,300, plus reimbursable amount. The initial agreement will be for only the design services. Additional services shall only be authorized by separate council approval.

The council also approved a supplemental agreement with Short Elliott Hendrickson Inc. (SEH) in the amount of $9,350, consisting of engineering services for the detour of South Main Street project and design and construction observation of additional pedestrian curb ramp construction on the North Jackson Street project.

The initial plan for the project was an asphalt overlay design. The street was planned to remain open during construction. Later in the design process, a storm sewer extension was added to the project to remove stormwater flows from the 6th St. storm sewer. The project’s traffic control plan was not reassessed, and the project was let without a detour plan. Once the project was under construction, it was decided a detour was needed, and the DOT concurred and funded the costs of the detour signage.

The new sidewalk work will be completed this summer prior to finalizing the project. SWAP funds will provide the funding for this additional sidewalk work at no cost to the City.

Andrews opened Monday’s meeting with a Memorial Day proclamation, which urged “all citizens of our community to take a few moments and reflect upon the lives of the valiant men and women that have defended our nation and the lives of all of our dear friends and relatives.”

Andrews explained that all Memorial Day celebrations and presentations will be done virtually this year.

In other business on Monday, the council:

— Set a public hearing for June 1 at 6 p.m. for the sale of property adjacent to Morningside Apartments. The Charles City School District is interested in purchasing the property, which is 0.748 acres, at a price of $15,000. The school district has already approved a reimbursement agreement to cover the expenses involved in this process plus the fair market value of the property. The housing board has approved this sale and has recommended the council take the necessary steps to sell this property to the school.

— Set a public hearing for June 1 at 6 p.m. for vacating a section of right of way of S. Johnson St., as recommended by Planning and Zoning.

— Approved a change order for this year’s sanitary sewer lining project. The change order addresses the lining of larger diameter sewer mains, heavy duty cleaning of specific mains, removal of protruding taps, and eliminating lining footage. The change order increased the project cost by just under $54,000.

— Approved a pay estimate in the amount of $184,258.75 for the Water Resource Recovery Facility project. Work is expected to resume on the project on Tuesday, May 26. Costs are for stored materials with some minor project management. Fox Engineering reviewed the payment requests and recommended approval.

The next city council meeting will be Wednesday, May 27 at 6 p.m., with a special meeting followed by a regular meeting.