The future of Plaza Pool under discussion | News, Sports, Jobs

News File Photo The entrance to the Alpena County Plaza pool can be seen in this News File photo.

ALPENA – Alpena County, Alpena Public Schools, and other local stakeholders are exploring options that could lead to the construction of a new community pool and the closure of the Alpena County Plaza pool.

The process is in its infancy, but if a new pool were built, it could ease the financial burden the pool has on county funds.

Alpena County owns the pool and contracts with Synchronization Management to manage it.

At the Alpena County Facilities, Capital, and Strategic Planning Committee meeting on Thursday, County Administrator Mary Catherine Hannah briefed commissioners on the talks and discussed a new leak in the pool that needs to be located and repaired.

Hannah said having a new pool owned, operated and managed by multiple partners could be beneficial for the county and affordable for its users.

“There is a group that is getting more serious in discussions about a new swimming pool. They are made up of different stakeholders who have an interest in it, including the school,” Hannah said. “There is very strong interest from the school and other groups who may even be able to raise some pretty significant dollars to get a new facility built.”

The question, Hannah said, is if planning gets to the point where construction of a new pool gets the green light, how long would it take for it to open? She said if it took five years, the county would probably have to invest a significant amount of money to maintain and operate the Plaza pool.

If it does in two years, Hannah said, the county could do just the minimum to keep the Plaza pool open.

“We could keep spitting and taping,” Hannah said. “We would like to keep the pool operational until the new one is operational.”

The pool leak still hasn’t been found, but Hannah said about two inches of water leaked out of the pool overnight. She said maintenance workers would remove parts of the pool deck to find moisture and track the location of the leak. Then, she says, the necessary repairs will be made.

Hannah said the Plaza pool is about 50 years old.

“There have been a few minor upgrades like fans and air handlers, but the innards of the pool are stock,” she said. “Control systems also continue to be a problem.”

Much of the money that pays to keep the pool afloat comes from countywide youth and recreation mileage revenue. A mileage renewal is on the ballot in August and if it were to fail, that would likely mean the end of it.

Hannah said if the mileage renewal passes, a grant application seeking funding for the new pool could be submitted to the youth and recreation council.

“There could be potential for that,” Hannah said. “We had to go to youth and recreation. and see if he would be open to that.

Hannah said that if Plaza Pool were to close or a wait ensued for a new pool, many people would be deprived of the services a pool provides.

She said swimming lessons are very important because of Alpena’s proximity to lakes and rivers, and the source of recreation and therapy it provides for older residents.

“Having swimming lessons is one of the absolutely essential things that we need for an area surrounded by water and the idea that we wouldn’t have a safe place where people can learn to swim and be safe in the water would be a detriment,” she said. “Also, being in the pool is one of the only exercises some people can do, especially some older people.”

People who also want to take scuba diving lessons also need the pool to learn the ropes before heading to the nearby lakes.

In addition to many residents, Hannah said many people come to Alpena to swim laps and take lessons, which helps boost the local economy.

“We don’t just have a huge use of our own community, we pull in well from outside the community as well,” she said. “They come into the community, they spend money, go to restaurants and do other things while they’re here. It’s nothing to sneeze at.”

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