The American Fork City Council and Alpine School District are plunging into a debate over responsibilities for maintenance and operation of the American Fork Junior High School swimming pool. The debate may eventually hinge on how binding a 13-year-old unsigned agreement between the two entities is.
The pool, built in 1975 as a cooperative effort between the city and the district, needs approximately $65,000 to $120,000 worth of repairs. Problems with the roof are the most severe and led to the pool's closure one year ago. The closure was based on findings by a structural engineer that a heavy load of snow on the roof or seismic activity could cause the roof to collapse.In September of this year the council voted to demolish the pool, based on the information that the school district (which at the time was under a different administrator) had no interest in maintaining the facility either.
However, Mayor Kent Evans told the council last week that the Alpine School District has decided that the pool is an asset and wants American Fork City to restore and continue to operate the facility.
The district contends that the city must bear the sole cost of repairs to the pool, according to Evans.
"This raises a number of questions," Evans said. "What is the legality of the agreement? Does the city want to retrench its former position? Do we want to continue subsidizing an inadequate facility?"
Evans said that if the structure is demolished, the district could use the area for construction of additional classroom space. Other options include building a new pool facility on the site or repairing the existing structure.
"Our position has been to provide the best possible facility to the public we could, and we cannot do it in that facility as it is," Evans said.
American Fork City has been discussing addition of a new recreation complex to the city, which would include a pool.
The council voted to reaffirm its earlier position on the status of the pool and to authorize Evans to continue negotiating with the district.
Steve Bailey, recreation director, said the pool has minor problems in addition to major structural defects.
"If the roof was fixed there is no reason we couldn't go in and with minor repairs reopen the facility," Bailey said. "However, the pool has never met the community's needs."
Bailey said the pool was designed as a teaching facility, not as a community resource. For example, there is no spectator/waiting area and the shallow end of the pool is 4 feet deep, too deep for use by small children.
Bailey said that while the pool was used by the community, its design placed limitations on that use.
Council member Don Hampton, chairman of the city's recreation committee, said the committee is gathering repair and replacement cost estimates from engineering firms to make a recommendation to the council. That process should be completed by Jan. 1, Hampton said.