The fate of the 60-year-old pool at the Miami Springs Community Center was finally decided last week.
At a special meeting on Oct. 23, the Springs council met for slightly less than two hours and when it was over, a unanimous decision had been made on three different issues.
First was whether to try to fix the current existing pool or invest in a new facility.
Secondly was whether to spend the approximate $57,000 it would take to “shore up” the current pool, allowing it to remain open while a new aquatic facility is constructed.
And, thirdly, where would the new aquatic facility be built? At its current location next to the community center? Or, as a few have suggested, perhaps exploring the possibility of setting it up at the Miami Springs Country Club.
In the end, much to the delight of at least 25 “swimming enthusiasts” in the community who showed up in the council chambers, it was voted to build a brand new pool and also to keep the current pool open and spend the money necessary to keep it in safe condition while the new one is under construction.
And, even though the configuration might be different, the new pool will remain right where the current one is — adjacent to the Community Center building.
“I see a very similar situation here that we had with the new rec center,” said Councilman George Lob, who formally made a motion to build a new pool. “Sometimes when you try to fix what is broken it can turn out to be more expensive than just building something new. As far as fixing up what we have now, I would not be for that. I think it would be a waste of money considering how much we see it could be and that’s probably not the entire picture.”
Numerous experts stepped to the podium to opine, including chief building inspector Skip Reed; Orlando Ceballos from Link Construction (which put the Community Center up); and Keith Kleppinger from Russell Building Movers who represented Brownie Companies.
Reed was quite vocal about the poor condition of the current facility and that it was rapidly becoming a “life-safety” issue with immediate action needing to be taken.
“We’re dealing with a building that is not only deteriorating but already in movement,” said Reed. “What we found through the experts that we brought aboard to analyze the structure is exorbitant. Coming into this phase now it’s a little bit appalling to see that much debris on the ground, where it’s going and how fast it’s going. Nobody can determine when, where and how it’s going to happen. But with engineering along with my judgment, there is nothing that I can say whether tomorrow, next month, or next year. I can’t tell you.”
Ceballos was there in an observatory and advisory capacity and was asked up by the council because they were basing their decision on whether to spend the money to keep the pool open on just exactly how long it would take to have the new one up and running.
Ceballos confirmed planning and construction would take a total of 12 to 14 months.
“If shoring up means getting a year to a year and a half out of it we need to determine is it worth the investement to shore it up and do that or just shut it down and save the money,” said Mayor Zavier Garcia.
Consulting with City Manager Ron Gorland and Town Finance Director William Alonso, the council was informed that $77,000 was already in the pool reserves from the past budget, so the money needed for the shoring up was there. At the same time, the council also had to decide whether it was worth keeping the pool open at an annual cost to the city of around $200,000.
“I’m really basing my decision on how long a process it would be to have the new pool up and running,” said Councilman Michael Windrem. “If we knew that the new facility could be up and going in, say, six months or so, then I would not be for spending the money to shore up but that doesn’t sound like the case, so we should definitely do what we have to do to keep the old pool up and running for the time being.”
Then town attorney Jan Seiden informed the council that the RFP (Request for Proposal) process in order to find a company to construct the new facility would take a minimum of six months, thus pushing the completion of the new facility back even further.
Kleppinger was then called up to the podium to discuss the actual details of the shoring-up process.
“It’s basic house-moving shoring and I’m a house mover,” said Kleppinger. “What you have here is a bathtub with a deck around it. The pool itself is fine, it’s the deck around the pool that’s the problem. The problem is that concrete shoring is constantly destabilized by rust and corrosion. What we will install is basically wooden timbers with a jack on top, leveled and positioned in place to take the load off the end of the beams, that you can now see are fractured and breaking.”
While many decisions now will be made at upcoming council meetings as far as securing funding for the estimated $3.5 million project and exactly what kind of facility will be built, once it was decided that its location would not change, Garcia brought out plans (done by him) of an idea he had about building the pool length-wise along Chippewa Street. The actual building would then be built abutting the current community center with the idea being to save a little money by not having to build a wall on the back end of the building. The north parking lot would remain relatively unchanged and more parking spots would occupy the space where the current pool is now.
“This is just one idea,” said Garcia. “We will be looking for plenty of input from plenty of people down the road as we try and finalize the plans.”