Pool design finalized

Lake Monticello General Manager Catherine Neelley told the Board of Directors at a budget work session Thursday (Nov. 2) that the pool will be functional through the 2018 season.
“We’re going to make it another year, no problem,” she said to the visible relief of some members.

Finance Director Dabney Wallford told the directors that the pool lost less water than in the previous year, in part due to the contractor sealing cracks, and that the pool manager kept the chemical levels balanced despite ongoing problems with the filtration system.

Cracks and the failing plumbing system were the chief reasons the Board called for replacement of the 41-year-old pool earlier this year.
The process has not been without controversy.

While initial estimates of the replacement were around $750,000, the Board eventually decided to request $900,000 to fund the project. Residents approved a funding plan that will take $436,000 from the Emergency Reserve Account and $463,600 from the membership in the form of a one-time special dues assessment of $100 per household.

Voters had to make this decision without knowing what any proposed new pool would look like or where it would be located. Directors initially believed it would be more cost-effective to build on a new site, either adjacent to the existing pool or near the golf course. In September they announced it would be built on the current site.

The timeline has also shifted since the spring. In March Board President Rich Barringer said if the membership approved the funding in June, “We should have a new pool in 2018.” But in discussions this summer with the engineering firm Timmons Group, it became clear that it could not be completed that quickly. The new plan is to begin construction in late 2018 for a May 2019 opening.
At two town hall meetings last month, several residents voiced their belief that the community had been excluded from the design process.

Members were never sent a survey asking what basic features they would like to see in the new pool. Some community members have expressed the belief that requests to investigate the possibility of adding a removable heated bubble for year-round use were dismissed too quickly. Some town hall speakers pointed out that no members of the community or stakeholders like the Lake Monticello Swim Team served on the design team, which was made up of Directors Marlene Weaver and Tom Braithwaite, Contracts Manager Angie Cooke, and representatives from Timmons Group.
Some of the recommendations at the town halls seem to have made an impact.

Weaver said that the design team held a meeting Oct. 24 with the engineers from Timmons Group to finalize the pool design.

Acting on feedback from the town halls, Weaver listed a half-dozen items they changed in response to community concerns. The changes include installing a railing in the zero-entry area to assist the mobility-impaired, and installing a partial wall between the kiddie pool and a section of deeper water.

Pool vendors will be invited to prequalify for the project in the winter of 2018. Some town hall participants questioned the timeline, which calls for opening the project to bids in the late summer of 2018 with construction starting just a few weeks later.

This tight schedule raised concerns that high-quality vendors, who often book major projects months or even years in advance, wouldn’t be eager to bid on a job with such a quick turnaround.