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City checking into replacing pool

Council approves RFP for engineering and design services

Back in 2019, Marshall city officials listened as parks superintendent Preston Stensrud, at center, led a tour of the Marshall Aquatic Center and pointed out some of the deficiencies with the aging pool and bath house. After a lot of discussion on the pool two years ago, the Marshall City Council is seeking architectural and engineering proposals to update the Aquatic Center.

MARSHALL — Marshall’s Aquatic Center has the second-oldest outdoor pool in Minnesota — but it’s a distinction that comes with a lot of drawbacks, Marshall city staff said. A 2019 study showed that the 50-year-old pool has serious problems with leaks, as well as aging mechanical systems, and a lack of handicapped accessibility.

Now, the city is taking another step toward updating or replacing the pool. On Tuesday night, the Marshall City Council voted to request proposals for architectural and engineering services for the Aquatic Center. The plan is for proposals to come back to the council in March, said City Administrator Sharon Hanson.

“One of the reasons we want to bring this forward, we really feel that if the city council would like to move forward we need professional guidance,” Hanson said. She said the RFP doesn’t lock the city in to replacing the pool, or using the design concept that the 292 Design Group created in 2019. “We know from past projects that each phase really has decision points for the council. If the council does approve a request for proposals, there would be another action item to actually hire the firm,” as well as for approving designs, letting and accepting bids, Hanson said.

The 2019 design concept had an estimated $8 million price tag to construct new lap and leisure pools on the existing Aquatic Center site, said Marshall Community Services Director Scott VanDerMillen. The concept also included updates to allow for family changing rooms and more privacy at the bath house, brought the facility into ADA compliance, and added a splash pad — a dry area with play structures that spray water.

“Splash pads are extremely popular and appropriate for all ages, including toddlers,” VanDerMillen said.

Hanson said the city wanted to receive architectural and engineering services proposals by March 4. The city council would take action on the proposals on March 23.

“We did indicate that we do want to have some community feedback,” Hanson said. The RFP proposal includes having one or more public feedback sessions, she said.

“Financing funding, I know that will be a very large question not only for the council, but you may get feedback from your constituents,” Hanson said. She said city staff want to have a council work session in February to talk about the city’s finances and debt reduction schedule as well as the aquatic center.

Council members were supportive of the RFP, although they disagreed on whether the city should pursue an outdoor pool or an indoor structure that could be used year-round.

“I’m not necessarily gung-ho to spend eight or nine million dollars, but we as a community need to make a decision of either we’re going to do this or we’re not,” said Council member James Lozinski. The pool currently loses 12,000 to 15,000 gallons of water a day, Lozinski said. He thought the plan would be a cost-effective way to try and solve that problem, while offering amenities to the community.

Council members John DeCramer and Russ Labat said they thought it would be good to look at having a indoor facility. Labat said Marshall residents expressed support for year-round pool access. Labat also said the city should try looking into a partnership with Southwest Minnesota State University or the YMCA.

At the same time, council member Steven Meister said, the city also didn’t want to directly compete with other indoor pool facilities like the YMCA or local hotels that have indoor pools.

Hanson said the RFP wouldn’t lock the city into using the 292 Design Group’s concept, if council members wanted to go in another direction.

Council members voted 6-1 in favor of approving the request for architectural and engineering proposals, with Labat casting the dissenting vote

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