Doubts expressed about outdoor swimming pool opening in 2021

MADISON OFFICIALS learned on Monday that the schedule for receiving replacement electrical equipment for the Madison Aquatic Center was extended from six to eight weeks, casting doubt on whether the outdoor swimming pool can open this summer. City officials discussed arranging some replacement activities for children while the swimming pool is closed.

After hearing additional information on Monday about difficulties in purchasing equipment for repairs to the electrical infrastructure at Madison's outdoor swimming pool, city commissioners and other officials discussed ideas for providing replacement summer activities for children while the city's pool remains closed.

The commissioners received a report that provided doubts about whether the pool could open this summer. Madison officials proposed ideas that included contacting other communities with public pools and seeing if they were interested in hosting groups of Madison children who would visit during field trips.

Jameson Berreth, city administrator, said Madison officials could seek collaborations with other communities and recruit local volunteers and sponsors to help with the field trips.

The Community Center and city firefighters are also offering programs to help children with entertainment during the summer months.

The search for alternate activities was initiated after Brad Lawrence, city utilities director, told the commissioners that a Sioux Falls contractor reported needing more time to provide the parts to repair the Madison Aquatic Center. The commissioners last week approved having Malloy Electric of Sioux Falls provide the parts and equipment needed to make repairs. Lawrence said Malloy Electric had provided the lowest, responsible quote for the equipment from the five companies that had submitted bids.

On Monday, Lawrence said Malloy Electric staff had informed him that the timetable for delivering the parts was extended from six to eight weeks, taking the pool's work schedule from a start in early July to mid-July. Lawrence said that even if the city chose another parts vendor, another company would probably experience the same type of delay.

"I'm afraid we'll be in the same place," Lawrence said.

The commissioners asked Lawrence to continue working on the project. They discussed the replacement of the boiler at the aquatic center and conducting repairs to other corroded metal parts inside the MAC building. Lawrence told the commissioners that the schedule for receiving a new boiler is currently 12 weeks.

Lawrence said city personnel would continue working on other renovations to the MAC that would help avoid the reoccurrence of the current problems. The changes would include modifying the ventilation system and renovating the access to the room where pool chemicals are stored.

Daniel Buresh, a Madison firefighter, last week proposed that the fire department could set up splash zones in at different sites in Madison on a schedule. Buresh said the fire department could provide water hoses with spray nozzles, a deck gun and ground monitor for sprinklers, and water cannons and splash pads. Some locations would provide slip-and-slide tarps (one for younger children, one for older) for water slides. Since then, Raven Industries, a Madison company, has provided the tarps.

The first pilot sites for the splash zones are scheduled at Baughman-Belatti Park from 2-4 p.m. June 8; Westside Park (MAC location) from 6:30-8:30 p.m. June 10; Memorial Park from 2-4 p.m. June 15; and Totland Park from 6:30-8:30 p.m. June 17. The Baughman-Belatti and Westside Park sites would include slip-and-slide play areas.

The firefighters have asked for volunteers to help with the splash zone program.

In addition, the staff at The Community Center in Madison started offering a summer special in which persons can sign up for a Month 2 Month membership package. Persons would have access to the wellness center and its indoor pool during the month of June and receive access during July for free. The program would have no initiation or reactivation fees and no contracts.

The Community Center staff are promoting the summer special as an opportunity for people to see what the wellness facility offers. Individuals can call 256-5837 for information.

Carol Shaver, a former aquatics coordinator at the wellness center, attended the city meeting and asked for more information about the extent of repairs needed for the MAC's electrical infrastructure. Lawrence replied that everything electrical that was exposed to fumes from stored pool chemicals needed repair or replacement. He added that equipment in sealed boxes was protected and the electrical pump motors, which were sealed, appeared to have been protected.

Shaver said she had tried to gather information about the difficulties at the MAC and was concerned about a lack of information. Shaver said part of the problems centered on a lack of supervision concerning the operation and maintenance of the MAC. She said someone should have responsibilities for operating the facility's equipment and managing the chemicals needed for maintaining the swimming pool.