LIMA — Does the community want a new public pool now that Schoonover Pool is on its last legs? And what will be done with the current space it inhabits in Schoonover Park?
These are the questions Lima City councilors are looking to answer over the next few months as they consider what exactly is going to happen to Schoonover Pool now that its repair costs overshadow what it would cost to rebuild an entirely new facility.
Councilors discussed the issue Monday night during a public works committee meeting after Public Works Director Howard Elstro explained the extensive structural problems plaguing the public facility. In its current state, Elstro said the pool would require roughly $1.2 million in repairs to address its myriad leaks of leaks, the pool’s deteriorating pump systems installed 40 years ago and the extensive destruction — or spalling — of the pool’s concrete floor.
“When we consider the cost (of building a new pool) at a million and a half compared to this number to get the pool just to hold water, it’s unquestionable that should the community want and have a public pool, it makes more sense to replace rather than refurbish,” Elstro said. “We need to understand that it’s a depleted asset.”
After a number of councilors agreed with Elstro’s assessment, the question soon became: What next? Does the community want a new pool?
If so, Councilor Jamie Dixon brought up concerns about the location of a new pool. He said Schoonover’s location is a three-mile bike ride for some residents of his ward, and if the city decides to move forward with new construction, he said he would like to see it be in a more accessible spot, such as Faurot Park.
Councilors also considered what would happen to the current space at Schoonover Park. Councilor Peggy Ehora, who chairs the committee, said she has heard suggestions from residents who have floated ideas about a potential skate park, ice rink or even housing development.
“We can re-imagine what does Schoonover become if the pool’s not there,” she said.
While plenty of questions remain unanswered, council did provide a few assurances. First, because of its condition, Schoonover Pool will not be open in 2021, and a potential replacement would probably not be available for the summer of 2022. Due to the need to find funds for the project and its size, City Engineer Kirk Niemeyer estimated that the first season it would be available would be in 2023.
For those plugged into city politics, that means the larger discussion around Schoonover Pool will most likely be one of the top campaign issues of Lima’s mayoral race — especially due to the strong nostalgia attached to the pool for longtime residents.
“I just want to ensure everyone that I feel, as a council, we will make the decisions based on what we think the people in this community want and support, and we’ll get through the emotional piece of it,” Ehora said.
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.