Members of the Vermillion City Council said they preferred a smaller pool for the proposed aquatic center that may be constructed at Prentis Park.
This was according to an informal poll taken after a presentation by City Manager John Prescott during an educational session Monday afternoon.
The present council members said they preferred a six-lane 25-yard pool over a six-lane 50-meter pool for the facility based on a number of considerations, including costs, staff and space.
According to a comparison sheet provided to the members of the council, the construction cost for the smaller pool would be approximately $6.15 million, while the larger would cost approximately $6.95 million, a difference of $800,000.
Annual total operating costs for the smaller pool would run from $201,000-$336,000, and $261,000-$436,000, a difference ranging from $60,000-$100,000.
In an interview Tuesday, Prescott said that some of the operating expenses could be offset by the revenue generated by the completed facility.
"The project consultant feels that with our market area as well as some of the features that we have, that some additional individuals will come to the pool from outside the community that typically would not come to the facility we have today," Prescott said. "So, we would have an expanded drawing area in terms of potential patrons for the pool."
Among the proposed features of the facility are various slides and a lazy river.
"The consultant feels that in looking at our trade area that we could draw some additional patrons to the facility when you combine it to the fact that some of our surrounding communities don't have a facility like this," Prescott said.
The consultant – Craig Roy of Water's Edge Aquatic Design – said a detailed financial analysis can be prepared for $3,000-$5,000.
The number of staff members is another concern. The current pool has a total of eight guards, while the 25-yard pool would require 16 guards on deck and four for rotation.
The 50-meter pool would need 20 on deck and five for rotation.
"It's a concern from that standpoint," Prescott said. "Right now, sometimes we have some challenges when we get to August to find enough individuals to work at the pool and staff it for the final two weeks of the season. So, regardless of the conceptual designs the council is in favor of, it is one of those concerns that we have because both designs are going to require more staffing."
Prescott said Monday that the size of the completed facility also should be taken into account.
"We have limited space to work with," he said. "The bigger things get, the more space we take away from other non-pool-related functions of the park."
There is no hard timetable for the project as of yet.
"When we had our budget meeting last August, we talked about some possible funding timeframes for the facility," Prescott said Tuesday. "We only want to design one. We're going to continue to work on identifying funding to construct the facility."
Possible construction would begin in the late summer of 2014 at the earliest, he said.
"We have suggested that from the standpoint of pooling some of the funding together fro the 2014 and 2015 budget, as this construction would span over two budget years," Prescott said. "That's if we're funding 100 percent of the project. If there are some grants, donor dollars or items like that would help expedite raising money for it."
There are no plans to do so as of this time.
"It will probably take a couple months in and of itself to design the bid," Prescott said.