On Tuesday February 18, the Common Council moved to approve the final report from Brandstetter and Carol Inc regarding the Memorial Pool Feasibility Study
. In a brief workshop presentation
given the week prior, Nancy Nozik highlighted the anticipated cost of renovation versus a complete rebuild.
Renovating the 70+ year old pool would cost approximately 2-2.5 million dollars including upgrades to the structural integrity as well as necessary upgrades to increase the lifespan of the current facility (decking, slide support structure, locker room, electrical, pumps, etc). The result would be an updated and fortified facility with no new amenities to attract users, with an anticipated yearly attendance to stay around the 12,000-14,000 mark. "In a sense, you are spending 2.5 million dollars to continue losing $75,000-$80,0000 per year in operation costs", Nozik explained.
The second, and recommended option, would be a tear down of the current facility and the construction of a multi-faceted aqua park facility at the cost of $6-6.5 million dollars. The facility would include many of the amenities that were viewed as important to the community as it pertains to their feedback on two separate meetings and public online surveys. This includes lap/exercise pool, zero-depth entry activity pool with interactive play features, pool slides , lazy river, concessions, pool house, and a facility layout with a 3:1 deck/grass area to water surface area with ample seating and shade structures. The layout will promote a community atmosphere ideal for families to gather and stay for extended periods of time.
Though the rebuild option comes at a higher price tag, the facility would put North Tonawanda on the map as a landmark summer attraction, drawing in people from all over Western New York to utilize the facility. "An investment in a project like this would transform the entire neighborhood and park", said Recreation Director Alex Domaradzki. "You are making it more family oriented, while also bringing in and exposing people to the Payne Avenue shopping district", he added. Based on the figures, the facility would conservatively draw an estimated 63,000 visitors per season, turning a $75,000-80,000 annual deficit into at worst a break even scenario.
For those calling for an indoor aquatic facility, Nozik provided figures in the report which highlight the feasibility of such a scenario. "Typically we see more visits and revenue generated from an outdoor facility open 70 days per year than you do with an indoor aquatic facility which operates all year round", Nozik added; pointing to the success of indoor aquatic facilities being tied the incorporation of the facility into a community center. "Once you factor the need of creating a whole community center, that becomes a whole new ball game with price tags climbing into the 15-20 million dollar range".
With the study approved, the City is now tasked with making a decision that looms large for the community. "We are in the process of diving into the report and looking into our options", said Mayor Arthur Pappas. "We are looking into funding avenues through grants, to help assist in making the best most informed decision", Pappas added.
The Council has recommended the potential for putting it up from public vote, a scenario that may take place as soon as 2020. "One thing that has been made clear by the public through the multiple public meetings and online surveys, is that whether it be a rebuild or renovation, eliminating a pool facility altogether is not an option", said Domaradzki reflecting on the public stance on a pool facility in North Tonawanda. For a complete review of the Memorial Pool Feasibility StudyFor a brief breakdown of the StudyChannel 7 News ClipChannel 2 News Clip