Equipment, infrastructure issues to cause Splash Arena shutdown

February 14, 2017 GMT

“Living on borrowed time,” said Randy Scott, director of facilities for maintenance for Scottsbluff Public Schools, describing the indoor pool at the Splash Arena at Scottsbluff High School, in a joint work session between Splash Foundation and Scottsbluff Public Schools Board of Education Monday.

Jim Kerr, Splash Foundation member, said there is a lot of passion with the pool no matter what the decision is or when it is made. However, Kerr said, the Splash Foundation learned over the past year that a small group of people can’t run the pool.

“It’s a community pool. It’s a school, it’s a city’s, it’s private individuals” Kerr said. “When they hear about closing a 40-year program there is going to be some passion.”

After much discussion, the results of the meeting was to close the indoor pool if there is a major equipment or infrastructure failure. If none occurs, officials will close it at the conclusion of the 2018-2019 swim season.

Since the city ceased operation of the outdoor community two years ago, no other operator has stepped forward and the outdoor pool will be demolished this spring.

The Splash Foundation will continue to operate the Splash Indoor pool in partnership with Scottsbluff Public Schools until it closes.

Jennifer Galindo, president of the Splash Foundation, said when the Splash Foundation took over the pool, they realized it still has some life in it and they can get more out of it other than one swim class a day and the swim team using it.

“It’s bigger than the swim team, bigger than kids learning how to swim, it’s a community asset,” Galindo said.

Galindo said the Foundation bought some time when the city backed out but they need to develop a true workable, solution to the pool.

The Splash Area was constructed in 1976 and is approximately 18,500 square feet. In a 2013 facility assessment report, various areas of wall and structural failures were reported.

Scott said work would have to be done to keep the pool running. An air handler would have to brought in, it would need an electrical upgrade, and fire alarm upgrades.

The air handler keeps the air temperature two degrees warmer than the water to keep a suitable environment for the pool.

The air handler wouldn’t be only the thing needed because a significant upgrade would require everything to be brought up to code.

“The most pressing issue (would be) if the water main were to go,” Scott said.

Scott said the water main is a 4-inch main elbow made out of ductile iron.

Over time, there has been a corrosive environment for the water main and the main shows signs of rusting.

Another thing to potentially go wrong is the electrical system as it has been exposed to chlorine and humidity, degrading over time and there could be main panels that could short. There haven’t been any problems with the main panels so far.

“We’ve had instances already at panel with moisture that circuits have shorted out and failed. We have addressed that in-house with smaller branch circuits,” Scott said.

Scott said if it had been main panels or lugs, it would be a different situation.

The air handler is original to the building. Scott said the average life expectancy for an air handler in a pool environment is about 15-20 years.

Scott said they are very fortunate that there has been a great maintenance team even before Scott who helped take of the building.

Rick Myles, superintendent of Scottsbluff Public Schools, said the goal of the meeting was to make sure the community is aware of the dire needs of the pool.

He said each year the school district contributes $120,000 in cost of support the public pool.

“My goal is to put in on the table, make sure the public is make aware of it,” Myles said.

Formal action will be taken at the Board of Education meeting on March 13.