Merriam anticipates new studies to chart a path for future of community center, pool

The original community center building dates to 1911 and was the first school in Merriam.
The original community center building dates to 1911 and was the first school in Merriam.

The Merriam Community Center and the municipal pool are in need of significant repairs in the next few years, a fact that the city council was presented with last month. Now comes the question of how to choose a course of action for their future.

The 2016 city budget has $150,000 built in for a study to determine how to proceed with the community center and pool. The results of an assessment of the community center, presented in May, revealed that the building is in need of immediate repairs that are estimated to cost $375,000. That study also presented three possible options for the future of the center: remodel the current structure; remove part of the current building and replace that section; raze the structure and build a new community center.

City administrator Phil Lammers said Monday that working through to a final plan has “a lot of moving parts.” For example, he said, where to move activities and staff if the building has to close down. City staff, he said, has begun working on a strategy for the council to be able to choose a path moving forward. The city hopes to have a consultant on board before the end of the year and to start having dialogue about the options. Staff also is working on a financing plan.

“(I) don’t like to spend money on a community center that could be torn down,” Mayor Ken Sissom said, “but if something breaks, you need to fix it.” The city has placed money in the budget to pay for any immediate concerns, the council was told.

Lammers said studies on the community center and pool could include surveying residents on preferences for facilities and working with nearby cities to coordinate options.

The pool situation is deteriorating rapidly, the mayor said, predicting it probably will not see a third season. A report on the pool last month said the filtration system, the main tank and the bathhouse all are facing needed renovations or replacement in the near future.