Bozeman city officials say they hope to keep Bogert Pool open until they can open up a new facility. But with recent mechanical failures, will the pool be able to hold up for another two or three years?
Joanne Heusel watches her kids from across Bogert Pool. They've been regulars for almost a decade.
"They get to swim and they enjoy it. They can dive here. They can jump off the side," says Heusel. But recent mechanical failure has Heusel concerned.
"I wanted to bring my kids so I had to call and make sure it was open," explains Heusel. That's why she wants a brand new facility.
"Something like they have in Great Falls or Missoula that has a lazy river, some water slides, a huge Olympic sized pool, pretty big for all the residents in Bozeman," Heusel tells me.
Rebecca Huff was at the pool early for her child's swim lessons. She tells me Bogert is one of the few places she takes her kids to swim in the summer.
"We have ponds to swim in but that's just not as conducive to outdoor play, I think, as nice clean, chlorinated, safe water," says Huff. But Huff's not gunning for anything new.
"I think that if they can repair it, that would be great. I don't see a need for a fancy water park or sprinkler park," Huff says.
City officials tell me they know how important an outdoor pool is to the community.
"We will do everything possible to keep it open," says City Manager Chris Kukulski.
Kukulski met me at Bogert Pool. He showed me the equipment that had to be repaired.
"The filtration system is the only part of the pool that is new," says Kukulski. It's why they set aside $25,000 in the budget for repairs and plans for a new facility.
"It's a little bit frustrating but deliberate to kind of limp it along because we know we'd rather make the investment...into a new pool rather than put hundreds of thousands of dollars into this one," explains Kukulski.
He tells me making repairs still wouldn't solve all of their problems.
"You're somewhere north of seven figures by the time you completely renovate this pool and what you have in the end is a beautifully renovated 1939 vintage swimming pool that has no more capacity to handle users than it does today," Kukulski explains.
A new facility is still two or three years down the road, so how much is too much in repairs? "If we had a failure that would start to approach six figures to repair, I would think that would probably call an end to it," Kukulski says.
I found comments on our Facebook page suggesting the city might have ulterior motives.
"What do you say to folks who believe the city is using the latest mechanical failure to demonstrate this is an old pool and we need a new facility?" I asked.
"I think that's ridiculous. That's not how we've operated any of our facilities...I don't believe there's any motive for the city to do that. I think it would only take away from our credibility," Kukulski replied.
Kukulski says the best way the city can serve its citizens is to get every day they can out of Bogert Pool so, folks like Heusel and her family can have a place to go until a new facility is up and running.
Kukulski tells us they expect to talk with voters about designs for a new facility in 2014.