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Aging Janesville pool loses water

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MARCIA A. NELESEN
June 15, 2010
— The Janesville Palmer Park Wading pool is leaking “significant amounts” of water, and city staff is looking for the cause.

Workers on Monday were capping drains to see how much water loss occurred overnight, said Tom Malone, management analyst for the city. Staff also planned to thread a video camera through the pipes.


The main drain is leaking slightly, but that’s not the cause for the significant water loss, Malone said.


The pool opened for the season June 5.


The city will decide today whether to close the pool, Malone said.


“We know that it’s common to have some water loss, but obviously not near this amount,” Malone said. “The pool was only filled about a week ago, and the parks department noticed a major amount of water being lost.”


The pool is almost 75 years old, and a consultant has said the average life of such pools is about 35 years.


The pool was temporarily closed in 2008 because of mechanical issues. Last year, drains were replaced to comply with a new federal law. Some additional repairs were made this year, Malone said.


The city has struggled with the question of what to do with its aging aquatic facilities. Several past city councils have put off doing anything because of the cost.


The council did reopen the Riverside Wading Pool last year after it was closed to save money.


“The real issue is, you have an entire aquatic system that's all coming to its death at the same time,” a consultant said in 2007.


Former Manager Steve Sheiffer started putting money aside to upgrade the facilities, beginning with $250,000 in the 2006. A recent council stopped that practice.


About $400,000 of the set aside money was spent this year on maintenance at Rockport Pool, which is almost 30 years old.


The total subsidy in 2010 for aquatics is $264,757. That number is predicted to get larger as facilities fail. The subsidy at Palmer Wading Pool was $31,785 in 2007.


A resident aquatics committee several years ago suggested spending $9 million that would have included replacing the Palmer Park Wading Pool for a splash pad.


Some residents weren’t happy with the suggestion.


Sheiffer later suggested a project maximum of $5 million, but city council members balked.


The wading pool is grandfathered under current state codes. If it is improved or a new one built, codes would require restrooms and showers for a total cost of $2 million, according to the consultant’s report.



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