Waterloo swimming pool update plans underway, asking for public input

WATERLOO, Iowa (KWWL) – Waterloo Leisure Services is asking the public to help determine the future of Waterloo swimming pools.

Public opinion on the city’s two current swimming pools is sought in a survey.

“What are we missing? What would make you want to go to the pool and take your family more? said Recreation Superintendent Mark Gallagher.

The Byrnes and Gates Pools were built in the 1980s and have had a few additions, but the foundation won’t last long. The swimming pool is made of aluminum and not concrete as are the current and more modern swimming pools.

“We’re at the point now that we’re putting more money into it knowing that swimming pool shells can fail pretty much anytime,” said Gallagher.

Both pools have already had a number of dressings to cover up issues over the years. At Byrnes Park Pool, the pool wall gave way and leaked a few years ago.

“How long is the lifespan really left in the facilities you have?” Is this something you can keep limping? said Ballard King and Associates director Darin Barr.

Completely rebuilding the pools is an idea, but before considering that, Waterloo Leisure Services wants to know what the community would like to see added to their summer hangouts. Some of these ideas expressed by community members in the past have included more family-friendly facilities, shallower waters in swimming pools, wading pools for toddlers, and more water slides.

Barr, a consultant, was hired to study the market and help build an action plan for the city. He says there is a lot to consider before going ahead and crafting a legitimate plan to present to city officials.

“It’s as much about social opportunities as it is about getting into the water, isn’t it? So what are we doing to promote this social opportunity, and what are we doing to promote this sense of community? Barr said.

A public consultation meeting was held at Cedar Valley Sportsplex on Thursday evening to hear some of these ideas.

As surrounding communities built newer and more modern swimming pools, recreation superintendent Mark Gallagher said some Waterloo residents may be leaving town to go swimming elsewhere. He believes updating the pools will help bring them back and keep other patrons loyal to their neighborhood pools.

“I wish the people of Waterloo didn’t have to drive too far to have a good day at the pool and spend a lot of time with their family,” said Gallagher.

The public inquiry will be open for a few weeks. After the data is collected, a more structured plan will be developed and presented to the city in the fall, according to Barr. The city will ultimately make the decision about the future of the Waterloo pools.

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