Thursday, July 31, 2014

Indoor pool slated for fall reopening, new owners say

By DOUG CARDER, Herald Senior Writer | 7/2/2013

The pool now is filled. The heaters are working.

And the owners of the indoor pool facility on East Wilson Street in Ottawa said they hope to roll out the welcome mat during the Labor Day weekend.

The pool now is filled. The heaters are working.

And the owners of the indoor pool facility on East Wilson Street in Ottawa said they hope to roll out the welcome mat during the Labor Day weekend.

“We would like to time the opening to coincide with the public outdoor pool closing, so it would be a natural transition of pool activities from outside to inside,” Rick Deitz, co-owner of the former Swim for Life indoor pool at 913 E. Wilson St., said. “The pool hasn’t been open for [more than] three years, so we want to get all our ducks in a row this summer and have a grand opening in early September, possibly Labor Day weekend.”

Deitz, a rural Ottawa resident, and Alan Wright, a Baldwin City businessman, purchased the indoor pool facility in June 2012 from the Ebeck family for an undisclosed sum, they said. The green and tan building, accented with weather vanes on top, looks like a large barn from the road. But inside, the owners are completing the final touches for the aquatic center as they await a conditional-use permit from the City of Ottawa to begin operation, the two men said.

“The pool itself is functional right now,” Deitz said. “We are still doing some painting, and we need to put in humidifiers and exhaust fans and get pool covers, but it’s nearly ready to go.”

Ottawa city commissioners were expected to approve a conditional-use permit for the pool at their meeting this morning at City Hall, 101 S. Hickory St., Ottawa. The Ottawa Planning Commission recommended on a 4-0 vote that city commissioners approve the permit.

No one spoke against the indoor pool facility during a recent public hearing, Wynndee Lee, the city’s director of planning and codes administration, told city commissioners Monday at their study session.

“A property owner to the east of the building spoke in favor [of the indoor pool reopening],” Lee said.

One condition to receiving the permit, Lee said, was that a vegetation screen or fence be installed on the west side of the parking lot, Lee said.

Wright, who was at the study session Monday, told commissioners that putting in the fence or vegetation screen would not be a problem.

After the meeting, Wright said he was encouraged that none of the commissioners seemed to have any reservations about the indoor pool resuming operations.

If approved by the commission, the pool would reopen after sitting idle for nearly four years.

Telling The Herald the pool was no longer feasible, Joe Ebeck closed the facility in 2009. Ebeck said his father, Hal Ebeck, purchased the pool during a public auction in February 2008, and it reopened later that year.

The building has been used sporadically since it was built by Mark and Carolyn Retzer in 2003 and closed three years later. The 25-foot-by-75-foot pool has been used for lap swimming, aquatic aerobics, physical therapy, swimming lessons and private memberships for individuals and families.

Deitz and Wright plan to reintroduce lap swimming, aquatic aerobics, physical therapy, swimming lessons, swim team practices and other such activities as private birthday parties, the two men said this week.

“The pool will not be open unless there is a person with CPR and lifeguard training present,” Deitz said. “Water aerobics instructors are certified, so we plan to move forward with some water aerobics classes once we have city approval. We’re also in the beginning stages of contacting the hospital and some doctors’ offices to see if they would be interested in using the facility for rehabilitation therapy.”

The owners also plan to make the facility available to the community swim team for practices, they said.

Once the pool is open to the general public in September, Deitz said, the owners plan to introduce lap swimming and talk with the Ottawa school district about making the pool available for swim lessons for students.

“We also want to make the facility available to Ottawa University, and to the Ottawa Recreation Commission — if they wanted to hold a scuba class, for example,” Deitz said.

The owners plan to sell monthly memberships that will make the pool accessible to members for lap swim and other activities, though those details are still being worked out, Deitz said.

“Once we start lap swim, the pool will have a regular lifeguard on duty, but we don’t plan to have staff at the pool initially until after we open it up in September,” Deitz said. “Any group or class that uses the pool between now and then will have to have a certified lifeguard present, which typically would be the swim coach or the aerobics instructor.”

The yet-to-be-named aquatic center will be open seven days a week and set regular times for lap swims, aerobic classes and other activities, Deitz said.

“We think this pool could be a tremendous community asset,” Deitz said. “We’re looking forward to getting it open.”

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