Concerns about the amount of outdoor water space and amenities in initial designs prompted the Merriam city council on Monday to direct project managers to develop a third schematic for the new aquatic facilities that will be part of the city’s $30 million community center project.
That request followed the council’s review of a second round of design concepts for the outdoor pool space — concepts that would cost more than the $4.4 million budget for the new aquatic center.
Some council members and Merriam pool members had expressed concerns with the proposed outdoor pool plans, partly because they believe those concepts did not offer enough outdoor water space and/or amenities.
All proposed plans have lap lanes, zero-depth entry and play area, but some pool users provided feedback to planners saying the configuration of the pool would limit uses and make the pool less attractive as a site for competitive swimming programs.
On Monday, the council asked staff to explore options that place dive wells in a separate pool from the lap lanes. That way, the entire lap pool, at 3 feet 6 inches, would be an accessible play area outside of lap swimming.
Additionally, the council requested design concepts for a six-lane versus eight-lane lap pool in the outdoor space.
Costs for this third round of concepts have not been calculated yet.
The council generally agreed, however, on an outdoor pool plan with 25-meter lap lanes instead of 50-meter lanes. The council also generally agreed upon the proposed indoor pool concept, namely for its variety of amenities, including:
- Therapy pool
- Lazy river
- Zero-depth entry
- Spray features
- Family slide
- Large slide
- Four 25-yard lap lanes
- Open swim and play area
The potential for an additional round of revisions to the designs could affect the timeline and budget for the project, said City Administrator Chris Engel.
The prospect of additional costs or delays led Nancy Hupp to encourage her fellow councilmembers to be mindful of money and “more and more mindful of time” in deciding next steps for the design concepts.
But councilmember David Neal, who was vocal during the work session, said building the new community center is “one of the most important decisions” the sitting council will ever have,” and urged a deliberate approach.
“This is a $30 million to $35 million project, so we do need to get it right,” Neal said. “We need to know exactly what it is that we’re deciding and all of the parameters.”
The council is still shooting for a deadline of May or June 2020, in time for the outdoor pool season.
The proposed outdoor pool designs will go before the council for discussion and a formal vote in its next meeting Monday, July 23. The council must vote on a plan by Aug. 10 in order to pass it on to the planning commission in time for its September meeting, staff said.