Budget decides to issue RFPs for Natatorium redevelopment

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Lisa Goudy
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Coun. Candis Kirkpatrick discusses her thoughts on the redevelopment of the Natatorium at the Feb. 7, 2014 budget committe meeting.

The budget commitee voted to issue a request for proposals for redevelopment of the Natatorium, but it wasn’t without much debate.

Following an hour-long discussion on the Natatorium and the Phyllis Dewar Outdoor Pool, budget commitee decided to issue the request for the Natatorium to attract redevelopment proposals from either the public or private sector.

“I recognize that the Natatorium is near and dear to many hearts in Moose Jaw. It seems like we’re going over the same things over and over and over again. We’re getting more studies and it seems to me that we’re doing that hoping for different results,” said Coun. Candis Kirkpatrick. “My personal choice should be we issue an RFP for redevelopment for proposals from the public or private sector.”

Kirkpatrick’s motion, while it passed as amended, does not include the Natatorium site, which includes the outdoor pool.

But according to the parks and recreation department report, the pool’s life is unknown and mechanical, structural or electrical problems could happen at any time that would close the outdoor pool.

“Currently we don’t have funding in the five-year plan for doing any major renovation or upgrade to the outdoor pool or for any major overhaul of the Natatorium facility,” said Jody Hauta, director of parks and recreation. “What has been included is some funding to bring in the consultant to update the current state of the Natatorium and then there is some funding in future years to proceed with some sort of initiative.”

There is $300,000 in the five-year capital plan for limited upgrades. An engineering study from Kontzamanis Graumann Smith MacMIllan Inc. (KGS Group) dated June 12, revealed the Natatorium pool area is able to hold a floor.

The Natatorium, built in 1932, has been subject to a number of reports and studies. On May 27, KGS Group did a visual inspection of the pool that outlined upgrades that are needed.

The parks and recreation report said recently the consultant said in a phone conversation that his inspection was a “very small component of the review that should be completed on the facility” and that the scope of his work was limited to whether a floor should be installed and a visual inspection.

“We know (the pool’s) going to fail. That’s inevitable. It’s just a matter of when it’s going to fail and there’s little we can do to prevent that failure from occurring,” said Matt Noble, city manager. “With respect to the Natatorium … there would be nothing worse than investing millions, and we are pretty sure it’s millions of dollars that would be required to put that facility in a proper state for us, and then have the building not have the capacity to support that investment for then next 10, 15 or 20 years.”

Mayor Deb Higgins agreed an additional study should be done.

“I do have a little bit of emotional attachment to this,” said Higgins. “So I’m not afraid to admit this is going to be a tough one for me, but I do think we need the assessment because even though we may like to view them as two separate facilities, they aren’t.”

However, Kirkpatrick said the building would become harder to use the longer it is left alone.

Before Kirkpatrick’s motion was made, Coun. Don Mitchell’s made a motion to hire a consultant to do a more detailed review of the Natatorium followed by issuing an RFP for redevelopment of the Natatorium or the Natatorium site for public, private partnership proposals or proposals from private developers. With Mitchell, Higgins and Coun. Heather Eby in favour and Kirkpatrick, Coun. Brian Swanson and Coun. Dawn Luhning opposed, it was defeated. Coun. Patrick Boyle was not present.

Kirkpatrick’ motion passed with Swanson Luhning opposed after Mitchell made an amendment to remove the words “Natatorium site “ as a possibility for redevelopment. He said it “creates ambiguity about development in Crescent Park.”

Council will need to finalize budget’s decision at an upcoming meeting.

Follow Lisa Goudy on Twitter @lisagoudy.

Organizations: Phyllis Dewar Outdoor Pool, Kontzamanis Graumann Smith MacMIllan, KGS Group

Geographic location: Moose Jaw, Crescent Park

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