After enduring six decades of belly flops, cannon balls and horseplay, the Miami Springs city pool is starting to show serious signs of wear.
The pool’s structural shell has cracks and fractures, according to a July 2012 inspection report that cites:
• 194 “voids,” or sections where the concrete pool’s shell is exposed;
• 42 steel rust “extrusions,” where steel is poking through the concrete;
• 6 lights with “major” water damage to the sockets.
“I want to make sure you understand the latest information and where this is headed,” City Manager Ron Gorland said at the Feb. 24 city council meeting.
“We’re not asking for anything at this time, just informing you.”
Gorland read a lengthy memo from the city’s recreation director, Omar Luna, into the record that detailed the pool’s dire condition.
“You can see the rust spots — they’re huge and they are coming through,” said Luna, who added that pool repairs had become “complicated.”
The memo was written one day after a Feb. 19 Miami Herald report showed that the city was awarded a $5,750 Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation “quality-of-life” grant to allow those with paralysis and other impairments to enjoy the city’s pool.
An official city news release said that the grant would provide learn-to-swim gear and programs to “non-swimmers” of all ages who are facing physical, emotional or mobility challenges. But the biggest challenge may be determining whether the pool is safe now, given the city’s memo, and how leaders plan to deal with it.
Luna described three repair options that range in cost from $250,000 to $4 million.
Here is what residents would get for their money:
The first option, at a cost of $250,000, would give the pool an “as-is” resurfacing with no warranty.
“Within a couple of months, the integrity of the structure of the pool can still be an issue,” the memo shows.
The second option has “unknown” costs “depending on the condition of the pool once emptied.” Because of the “unknown” structural damage, this option could “easily range from $600,000 to $1 million.”
The pool would be closed for up to one year, with no guarantee that “additional rust and cracks will not appear” after the work is complete.
The final option would cost between $2-4 million and take up to two years to complete. The final result: a new, “state-of-the-art” facility that would last another 50 years.
Using the $4 million figure, the city presented an estimate that includes 15-year financing at 2.4 percent at an annual cost to taxpayers of about $300,000.
“We are in a deficit and have no additional monies for this nice — but not necessary — project,” said Mel Johnson, a former council candidate who has lived in Miami Springs for more than 50 years.
A public-records request for copies of the most recent health department inspection report shows that the pool received an “unsatisfactory” rating in March 2012 for having an “unsecured ladder and handrail.” However, the report did not mention any of the defects like pool-shell “cracks” or “fractures” that were discussed at the council meeting.
When a city pool presents a “significant risk to public health,” the county health department could declare it a “public nuisance” and close it, according to a department spokesperson. The department is unaware of the city’s memo about the pool’s condition and has asked for a copy in order to investigate the matter further.
For now, and to keep costs down, city leaders mulled doing “exploratory surgery” that may include taking X-rays of the pool’s walls. But this was tempered with caution.
“We had a recent example of what happens when you do exploratory surgery at the country club,” said Councilman George Lob, who referred to opening up two walls that revealed major problems. “Whenever you open up things this old, it’s going to cost you.”