The Bellevue City Council last week agreed to allow a committee to be formed in the effort to build a new municipal swimming pool in town.
The current pool at Cole Park, while closed this summer due to the Covid-19 pandemic, is still operational. However, it was constructed in 1965 and its age and small size are prompting an effort to build a new aquatic complex.
No numbers were mentioned, but with the cost being in the millions of dollars for such a project, a public bond referendum would need to be conducted before any new pool becomes a reality.
The two most recent referendums to build a new municipal pool in Bellevue both failed. The first, held in 2004, was voted down by a wide margin, 61 to 39 percent against; while the next referendum held in 2006 was closer with 54 percent voting yes and 46 percent voting no (a 60 percent super-majority would be required, as any money to build a pool would raise taxes to pay for the loan).
While the council agreed to allow a committee to pursue a new pool again, they also agreed that it would be totally up to the voters of Bellevue on whether or not it is wanted or needed. Members also suggested that the new members of the committee, when finalized, should reach out to past pool committee members, as well as communities nearby that have constructed new pools in recent years for more information.
While 55 years old, city workers, with the help of experts who behind the scenes have kept the old pool up-to-par over the decades since it was first constructed.
In fact, Bellevue’s Municipal Pool has consistently passed state inspections for water quality and cleanliness year after year.
Steve Engelman (known to many as ‘Ink’) has been the certified pool operator since 1993 and has kept the water clean and the mechanics of the facility running well. He is required to take a state exam every five years and obtain CEU training hours each year to keep up on any new pool regulations.
Constructed in 1965 at a cost of $72,000 ($586,000 in today’s dollars according to the Consumer Price Index), the Bellevue pool holds 165,000 gallons of water.
The pool itself was constructed with reinforced concrete, and the bathhouse of concrete block. Outside piping and inside piping are made of cast iron and copper.
The main system is an open vacuum diatomite pool level filter with a gas chlorination disinfection system.
The filtering equipment in the basement area of the main building is also from 1965, but still works.
“If we run into mechanical problems with the original equipment, we get a lot of help from John Kieffer, who lives right across the street,” said Engelman. “Brian Roling also does a great job getting the pool cleaned up and ready for summer.”
Engelman noted that the Bellevue Municipal Pool gets inspected ever year by state and county officials.
“We had perfect inspections for the past three years,” said Engelman. “For a 55 year-old pool with most of the original equipment, that’s not too shabby.”
Many folks in town will remember back in the late 1960s and 1970s, the Bellevue pool was a hub of activity. Folks came regularly from all over the county; and students from Preston and Maquoketa used to be bussed to town for swimming lessons. Oftentimes, even live bands would perform at the pool.
The pool is still a popular summer destination for all ages during the summer, but many say it is too small and its age is showing.
“When I posted a message about the pool not being open this summer, there were a few comments about the need to start looking at getting a new pool,” said Bellevue City Administrator Abbey Skrivseth, who said those who wish to be on the committee may contact her at City Hall. “So, it doesn’t like a bad idea to have a committee look into the various possibilities, but in the end, it will be up to the citizens of Bellevue.”