As repair decision looms, city eagerly awaiting bids for Marshall White pool fix

Monday , April 16, 2018 - 5:15 AM

OGDEN — Ogden City is still uncertain about how much it will cost to save the Marshall White Center’s pool, but the facility’s fate could ultimately lie in the hands of the community.

Sometime before March 5, the pool developed five large cracks in its concrete surface, and it has been closed ever since. Ogden Mayor Mike Caldwell said the city has finished analyzing the pool and will now seek repair and replacement bids from contractors.

RELATED: 'Save our pool': Marshall White users lobby to fix, keep community facility open

Keeping the facility in use will depend largely on the price of those bids and the public’s subsequent response about using tax dollars to fix it, Caldwell said. Initial estimates indicated a fix could be realized for about $500,000.

“Now we are hearing numbers kicked around to the tune of potentially $2 million,” Caldwell said. “But we don’t want everybody to panic because we don’t have legitimate bids yet ... we still don’t know what the overall bill is going to be... Until we have a legitimate number, I don’t think we can have a conversation with the public about how would you like to prioritize your public money.”

But the discussion will take place, both informally and potentially even as a ballot measure, the mayor said.

“We have all options on the table and part of that might be a bond question,” he said. “This is really important to the community — what do you want to do?”

RELATED: Nearly 50-year-old Marshall White Center swimming pool closed indefinitely

The pool is well-used, Marshall White Recreation Supervisor Juan Martinez told the Standard-Examiner in March. Swimming lessons, water aerobics, kayaking and open-swim sessions are all offered there. The community pool is also used by the Morgan High School swim team and the Ogden Preparatory Academy.

Caldwell said much of the programming (excluding the kayaking) has been moved to pools at Ben Lomond and Ogden High Schools.

On March 27, a large group of pool users attended the Ogden City Council meeting, urging the city administration and council to find a way to save the pool.

Caldwell said there have been rumors floating around that the city wants to get rid of the pool, filling it in with something that requires less cost and maintenance, like a pickleball court. The mayor insisted that talk is unfounded.

“We have not made a single decision,” he said. “We think it’s a fantastic facility and serves an area of our community that desperately needs it, and so we want to do everything we can to keep it in service.”

The most pressing concern about keeping the pool open is safety, Caldwell said. Engineers have determined the pool is at risk of having a “catastrophic opening,” he said, a scenario that presents “life safety issues.” The mayor said if the city can’t guarantee safety at the pool, the only responsible decision is to close it. 

Council member Luis Lopez has publicly supported keeping the pool open or replacing it if a permanent fix is out of the question. At an April 17 council work session, Lopez asked Caldwell how receptive the city is to building an entirely new pool. 

Caldwell again stressed that a decision like that, which would involve a major expense, should be decided by the community. 

You can reach reporter Mitch Shaw at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @mitchshaw23 or like him on Facebook at facebook.com/mitchshaw.standardexaminer.

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