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The big dive — the need for a new aquatic center

Recently the Marshall City Council selected architectural and engineering firm Stockwell Engineers to guide the city through the aquatic center design process.

The Marshall Aquatic Center has served the residents of Marshall and surrounding communities for more than 50 years–a long time for a community recreation facility. The current facility is showing its age and has numerous deficiencies in code compliance, operations, customer experience and maintenance costs.

The existing Marshall Aquatic Center includes three vessels: a diving pool with 1-meter and 3-meter diving boards, a lap/ general use pool with a waterslide, and a wading pool. It also includes a bathhouse and concessions building. The original facility was constructed in 1960s.

The lap/general-use pool and diving pool were renovated in 2008, including repair of significant structural failures within the diving pool. Structural failure of the vessels has reoccurred since the 2008 repairs. The structures of both the lap/general use-pool and diving pool have significant cracking and structural deterioration at the gutter joint, internal expansion joints, and wall to floor interface.

Water intrusion is evident by the delamination of the concrete surface and associated tile and plaster finishes at these locations. City staff has documented that the lap/general-use pool and diving pool are currently losing water due to leaks at a rate of 12,000 to 15,000 gallons per day (1,080,000 to 1,350,000 gallons per summer based on a three month use period). This is an extreme amount of water loss for a pool vessel. Movement and flow of this magnitude of water around and beneath the vessels is likely creating significant unseen issues within the supporting soils and exterior face of the unseen concrete vessels beneath. It is extremely likely that the internal steel reinforcing is severely corroded in areas around and near the points of significant leakage.

The existing bath house and concessions building suffers from many conditions typical of a building more than 50 years old. It has numerous code compliance issues and many of the building components are inadequate, function poorly or are decayed beyond reasonable repair. The building also has numerous issues in how it serves the users and presents itself to the public. City staff have made a good effort to maintain the building over time and to make accommodation for the changing uses and expectation of the public, but its limitations are extensive.

Many areas of the building do not meet the American with Disabilities Act. The interior poses the greatest challenge to the building. Much of it is in poor and unattractive condition. Today’s users of recreation facilities expect the facilities to have a high-quality, attractive finish and fit their expectations of a good recreational experience.

The current facility does not meet that standard. The locker rooms and restroom facilities need extensive remodeling. Today’s users also expect greater privacy in the changing and showering area. The existing building’s changing, shower and toilet areas are wide open with little privacy screening.

The changing areas should be divided into smaller bays for more privacy and showers should be the individual type rather than open. (There are some individual showers in the women’s locker room, but they are small and makeshift.) The restroom areas need to be replaced, in total, with new ADA compliant fixtures and a more useful layout.

The mechanical and electrical systems have deteriorated and in need of repair. Water line breaks are common and waste lines are failing. There is a significant problem of sewer gas entering the shower area of the building and staff have made a makeshift repair that needs replacement.

The staff has had to make many repairs to the plumbing systems and these repairs are exposed and add to the poor appearance of the building. Exhaust vans are old and inadequate and provide poor ventilation within spaces. Electrical systems are original. The main service panel is outdated and beyond its life expectancy and needs immediate replacement.

The concessions area has numerous deficiencies. Most critical is that it does not Minnesota Department of Health requirements. Floor, wall and ceiling finishes do not comply. The sinks for hand washing, food prep and dish wash are inadequate. The layout is extremely inefficient which limits the ability to serve the customers and affects potential income from food and beverage sales. There are also significant issues regarding the plumbing, ventilation and electrical systems.

The city of Marshall will work with Stockwell Engineers to completely re-envision the community’s aging pool. Before designing the facility, Stockwell will lead an extensive site analysis of the existing infrastructure and will conduct stakeholder and public meetings to gather input from community members as part of the design process.

— Sharon Hanson is the city administrator for the city of Marshall

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