Installation takes place May 8-23
By Scott Bellile
The New London Aquatic and Fitness Center will upgrade its failing showers during its annual two-week shutdown in May.
The estimated $35,000 project will replace the tower showers with wall-mounted showers when the pool closes May 8-23. There will be six wall-mounted showers in each locker room including ADA-accessible stalls. The showers will be fitted with temperature control as well as shower curtains for the first time.
“It gives people a little more privacy than the ones that are all open,” said Laura Gorges, pool manager.
She said the tower showers have been there since the pool opened in 1980.
“I think there’s a lot of people that will like that,” parks and recreation committee member Lori Dean said about the upgrade.
Committee member Ron Steinhorst agreed, saying he regularly hears complaints from swimmers who don’t like the temperature of the shower water.
The primary problem with the tower showers is their timers either turn off too early or they don’t turn off at all, which wastes water and energy. And when 20 to 30 people use the showers at once, it drains the water heater, Gorges said.
Gorges didn’t have an estimate on what the cost and energy savings will be following the upgrade, but she said staff will compare future energy bills to pre-upgrade bills after the project is finished.
The city council approved an $8,870 proposal from Mike Klatt Plumbing and Heating LLC on April 12. The cost doesn’t include the cost of the shower fixtures. Parks and Recreation Director Chad Hoerth told the parks and recreation committee on April 4 that he’s happy with the price of the plumbing and Klatt, the only bidder on the project, brings to the project familiarity of the building from past work.
The city originally looked at retrofitting the tower showers with new parts, but Hoerth told the committee the parts necessary were no longer available. New towers were “ungodly expensive,” so the city instead worked with a local industry to produce the metal shrouds.
Klatt will primarily handle the plumbing, but pool employees will assist him with parts of the shower installation, saving the city money.
The pool will reopen on May 24 at 9:30 a.m. During the shutdown, lifeguards will perform other facilities maintenance including scrubbing the floors, touching up paint and grouting surfaces, Gorges said.
Eye on improvements
New London Aquatic and Fitness Center hopes to tackle other improvements in the near future. Recently the pool installed about a dozen sensors on the walls that read light, temperature, humidity and power consumption. The results of the energy efficiency study should be available in June and could be used to make further structural upgrades.
“The current systems were designed three-plus decades ago, and there are many newer ways of thinking with newer technologies available,” Hoerth told the Press Star on Tuesday, April 26. “One example of this is that I wanted to is to make sure any newer systems ‘communicate’ with each other. In the past; the pool mechanical/filtration system and the HVAC system were pretty much independent. In today’s world, these two systems can communicate with each other to provide an optimal air environment with better cost efficiencies.”
Gorges said the facility also needs a gender-neutral room. Currently pool staff have to close a locker room in the event an older swimmer needs to bring in a caregiver or a family member of the opposite sex for help. Plans for such a room aren’t yet underway.
“It’s just been a good ol’ place, but it needs some updating now,” Gorges said.