Helper considers pool site change
Helper's $1 million pool could be moved toward the center of the city's park after discussion by council members last Thursday.
Recent discoveries found under the pool during demolition have forced the council to review plans and look for alternatives.
During the course of two weeks, city crews have worked to demolish the old pool in preparation for construction.
As workers began demolition work on the pool, they discovered the deck and support structures of an older pool that was situated in the same location.
Mayor Mike Dalpiaz described the remains of the older pool as a concrete shell over a tar-based fill, over yet another concrete shell.
Dalpiaz said demolition crews were having difficulties with the excavation.
Councilmember Dean Armstrong described the older pool as "an impressive piece of work."
To further complicate the demolition process, the most recent pool is constructed with extremely thick concrete and one-inch steel rebar.
Current construction standards calls for half-inch rebar and thinner concrete. As one last obstacle to demolition, the basin of the pool was refinished in the '90s with a reinforced covering.
Dalpiaz said the reinforced covering alone was extremely difficult to break up and was wearing down the teeth of demolition equipment at an accelerated rate.
That discovery of the older pool has necessitated a review of the plans to determine how to best continue the construction of the new pool, expected to open this summer.
In order for engineers to sign off on the footings of the new facility, the city would have to completely excavate both the existing pool structure and anything the crews find in the process.
The engineering obstacle can be demonstrated as construction equipment crosses the tennis courts at the demolition site, which appear to be built over a portion of the old pool.
As heavy equipment crosses the tennis courts, the entire concrete slabs shudder and the ground shakes considerably, said the mayor.
If the city were to build in the same location, both the most recent and the older pool would have to be completely excavated along with approximately three feet of surrounding fill. The added excavation and the cost of additional fill to replace excavated material could add significantly to the cost of the project, Councilmember Dean Armstrong reported.
Armstrong said that the city could declare through planning and zoning that no structures will be built on the old site of the pool. Demolition crews could then demolish the structures closest to the surface, and top the area off with at least three feet of fill. The space could then by paved for parking or planted with grass for a play area.
Another option could include doing a historical review of the area to determine the location of the old pool and a complete excavation and re-engineering of the ground prior to construction. That option carries additional cost due to the historical survey and additional engineering costs.
Additional budget factors added to the council's deliberation. The city is currently using county-owned equipment for demolition. According to Councilmember Bob Farrell, the use of county equipment is saving the city around $11,000 per day.
If the city were to choose to delay demolition, it would likely lose the use of county equipment and be forced to resume demolition with contracted equipment at a higher cost to the city.
"It's the economics now that's killing us," said Daliaz, who favored an option that would keep county equipment in operation.
After reviewing the possible options, councilmembers agreed that the best decision was to continue current demolition work and determine the feasibility of shifting the pool some 50 yards to the north and slightly to the east.
By moving the pool north, construction would occur on apparently undisturbed ground, an advantage from an engineering aspect.
"I think it will speed construction up," said Councilmember Chuck Buchanan. "And I think it will reduce cost."
Councilmembers also noted that moving the pool would make it the centerpiece of the park. It could also help solve some concern over parking. At present, pool adjacent to the pool is extremely limited. By using a portion of the old pool site for parking, the city could make more parking available on the south end of the park.
The mayor noted that playground equipment would have to be moved to accommodate the new location. however, he noted that the equipment which would be lost was older and likely needed to be replaced anyway.
Another factor of the relocation is the removal of trees. However, the council agreed that the cost of tree removal was likely to be less than costs associated with building the pool where it was originally planned.
If the city decides ultimately to move the site of the pool, other factors, such as elevation surveys and geo-technical drilling may have to be adjusted or repeated at the new site.
Armstrong said he would discuss the possibility of moving the pool and report back to the council on the matter.