Seems the old saying "when you find a fat goose, pick him, pick him" applies to our city. The price on what may be a "resume builder," The Big Pool, keeps going up. The Kansas City company to whom the city commissioners sold our pocketbooks last fall now have "a climbing wall," "a ninja course," a "fly high slide/zip line-type gizmo" to be used with a 50-meter pool we presumably would have to build — price not estimated — a "surf simulator," and a "bowl slide" for possible addition to the project. Don't these type of features appear to be used for private, for-profit pools or "cruise ship come-ons" rather than public financed locations"? This smacks like ideas coming from the private pool management subcontractor firm hired by the main K.C. contractor last fall!
These fancy, complex and dangerous things would be a total nightmare for city management, lifeguards, our liability insurance company, the electrical and water department budgets for water, and complex pumping and operational problems, among just a few that can be imagined. Will all our newer, high-dollar slides, etc., be dumped or resold for peanuts?
There are now also several "new concepts" — small competition pools — which can be viewed on our city website and rated one through three on likability. Concepts A: $7.5 million; B1: $10.2 million; B2: $10.5 million. C- and D pools, locations and details unknown, priced in millions at $12 million, plus add on $12.9 million more if combined with the previous item. That's 12, plus new entrance and concession stand, for almost $15 million. There is no place on this survey to say "no" or present any ideas like, "Let's not worry about $72,000 for water costs for three months, as opposed to $6.5 million interest on a $15 million price tag — for something we really don't need!"
The highly praised Capital Improvement projects Committee that reviews these matters is mainly composed of city staff and of folks non-representative of our citizenry; and cost of the projects to the taxpayers are usually ignored and rarely discussed.
According to info, two options are also being considered, although by whom and when isn't revealed: Option 2: Redo the pool as-is at just under $23 million cost.
No info on who made this estimate or any details. Such things in past years have been done on lowest competing bids. Taxpayers should know who is making up all of these details, and so should the commission.
Option 1: New piping and PVC membranes for the current pool, estimated at $16 million, with maintenance at $2 million every 10 to 15 years. That's the idea I tried to suggest in September, without such a ridiculous price tag. Little or none of the old, leaky piping or concrete pool deck would need to be removed, at a huge cost. A new PVC main pool filling pipe can be installed under the mid-pool walkway. The top can then be replaced. That, together with existing fill piping along the northwest side, will suffice to service the pool. This info came from a long visit with our water manager late last August.
The water presently being lost is a drop in the bucket in volume and cost when compared to raising irrigated crops and paying interest on a big debt.
According to our city financial officer, interest at 3% over 15 years on a $30 million project will add $13 million, for a $43 million added load for taxpayers.
Those "goose feathers" are getting harder and harder to come by. Call or talk to your commissioners. Save the Big Pool and your hard-earned bucks.
Duane West is a former Garden City mayor and city commissioner.