FARGO — Fargo's Park Board decided Tuesday, May 11, to seek more input before making a final decision on the design of the new Island Park pool slated to be reconstructed next year.
The board has been considering three options for the pool, including a similar design to what's there, and was looking at selecting one of the options this month.
However, the park board, after hearing from several residents at the meeting and in emails and other discussions, decided they wanted to seek more input, especially from nearby neighborhoods, on what could be up to a $16 million project.
Park District Executive Director Dave Leker said they could put together a few open houses, a community meeting or meet with groups on the project to possibly gain more input in the next month or two.
Another survey of nearby neighbors is possible to see what individuals would like, in addition to other ideas before architects start the final design yet this year.
The board said it still wanted to stick to its timeline of having the 45-year-old pool, which is on its last legs because of maintenance issues, demolished this fall with construction of the new pool starting next spring.
However, residents have raised concerns about what exactly it should have for amenities and how it blends in with the rest of the historic park, established in the late 1800s on former railroad land.
Joe Burgum, who said the pool is only used about 11 weeks a year, told the board he would like to see it become more of a "four-season" facility, adding the bathhouse could perhaps become more than just a place for changing swimsuits and possibly be a place to rent cross-country skis in the wintere. He also has suggested developing a master plan for the entire park.
Polly Wendelbo, who lives in a nearby neighborhood, said she would welcome more of a discussion, too, perhaps with her Hawthorne neighborhood group. She said some of the older people don't use social media tools as often and missed a survey done last November that gathered 2,500 responses on what people would like to see in the pool.
She said the park is a place for walking dogs, sun bathing and for walking and jogging trails and would like to see it help attract more young families into one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city.
Park Board Commissioner Dawn Morgan said perhaps the pool design could incorporate more green space and make it something more for people of all ages. She suggested an area for people who don't want to swim, but rather to simply watch or relax and read a book.
There were concerns raised that the survey with 2,500 responses last fall was already "a lot of input" on what people want, finance director Broc Lietz told the board.
"How many responses do you want, 5,000 or 10,000?" he said, adding that other surveys he has been involved with don't often get such a high response rate.
That survey found 66% of the respondents favored a lazy river, with a diving platform support at 54%, lap pool at 52% and water slides at 52%.
The first option to keep the pool layout as is would involve replacement of the pools and bathhouse at a cost of $12.5 million, while the other two options offer more of a water park atmosphere that could attract people from the region.
The second option would add two water slide features and a zero entry, or walk-in, pool with additional play features at a cost of $14.3 million. The third option adds on that lazy river with an attached tube slide for a total cost of $15.3 million.
A larger, expanded concession stand with more options and to help finance the maintenance of the pool was also a suggestion in the various options.