As the temperatures hit 100 degrees, the absence of the historic Eads swimming pool became much more real for local adults and children who relied for decades on those cool blue waters to provide hours of much needed relief. While the pool, itself, is permanently closed, the Eads Town Council is keeping the project of building a new pool very much alive, as was evidenced in their monthly meeting last week.
Justin McLoud, town council trustee who’s been spearheading the project since the beginning, reported in Tuesday’s meeting that the town has resumed its collaboration with GMS, Inc. and CRP Architects, two companies whose participation is invaluable in making the new pool a reality.
GMS, Inc. may be a name already familiar to local residents as the group has worked with the town in the past, most recently on a million dollar plus municipal wastewater project where their efforts resulted in the entire project being funded by outside sources with no additional contributions needed from the town. “They’ve been an excellent group to work with in the past,” McLoud states. For this project, Dannah Koeniger of GMS has been called in to explore funding options and, ultimately, write the necessary grant applications.
CRP Architects, based out of Colorado Springs, specializes in municipal and private pool design, and initial drawings have already been completed by Chris Mannino, Principal Architect with the firm.
McLoud states that, at this point, it’s likely the new pool will be located at the corner of Goff Street and 14th, directly north of City Park with the facility entrance and limited parking on Goff west of the courthouse. The entire perimeter of the complex will be enclosed with fencing, as is required by safety regulations.
The current design of the pool complex calls for a pool with dimensions of 70’ by 25’, a size that is equal to the current Eads pool, including a zero entry on one side that provides a gradual slope to transition from land to water. The pool will be equipped with one or two slides and a diving board. A separate baby pool is included in the design.
The pool house is designed to include men’s and women’s locker rooms with showers and toilets. There is also space devoted to a concession stand.
As far as the larger complex, the design currently includes space for seating and picnic tables shaded by an awning with the possibility of various other seating options, depending upon funding or a potential sponsorship program.
Bike racks will be placed in front of the pool house near the entrance.
The cost of the complex is estimated to run around $3 - $3.5 million.
At this point, Dannah Koeniger has informed McLoud that funding the project may be somewhat of a challenge, not because of the merit of the project but because of the timing. After spending significant hours researching grant opportunities, she’s discovered that the top 5 funders for projects of this type—such as DOLA and larger foundations—have set COVID relief projects as a priority and are not currently focused on municipal pools. The town has plans to pursue funding from GOCO, but McLoud indicates a GOCO grant will not be enough to fund the $3 million needed for construction.
As a result, Koeniger is now researching the feasibility of other options, including a possible sales tax increase, either for the town or Kiowa County as a whole. Another idea the council is considering involves a mill levy increase, again either for the town or county.
But that route is not without its own challenges, for if the town decides to go to the taxpayers to fund the project, the measure has to be approved to go on the November ballot by August 28, 2020, and getting measures on the ballot can be a complicated—and sometimes time consuming—endeavor.
McLoud added that, in the first few months of 2020 and before the pandemic, sales tax revenue for the town of Eads had increased 11% over the prior year. This fact fuels the hopes of the town that commerce—and subsequent collection of sales tax dollars—will return to a level comparable to what it was before the virus hit Colorado.
When asked about plans for the old pool, McLoud states, “The old pool depends on the new pool. There have been talks about demolishing and back filling if the new pool goes through. There has also been talk of trying to put in a wet pad if the new pool project doesn’t go through.”