Committee discusses Merrill’s $4.5 million project
By Bert Lehman
After receiving a pool study presentation about ideas for the future of the city’s municipal swimming pool, the city’s Ad Hoc Pool Committee has made recommendations for some of the items to be included if a new facility is built.
Ryan Nachreiner is project director for Water Technologies Inc. (WTI) of Beaver Dam, which is an aquatic design firm that focuses solely on water parks and swimming pools. He presented pool ideas at a joint Ad Hoc Pool Committee and Parks and Recreation Committee meeting in August.
When designing a new pool structure Nachreiner said WTI uses the principles of design which include purpose, activity, space and features.
“Everything we do is based on what we’re talking about for the purpose of the pool,” Nachreiner said. “What I mean by that is why are patrons going to the pool?”
The reasons patrons visit the pool drives what activities should be available at the pool, he said. The activities determine the size of the pool complex.
“We’re always trying to maximize appeal of the aquatic center,” he said. “That’s done primarily by making it as multi-purpose and multi-generational as possible.”
He said the goal of maximizing the appeal of the pool complex is to get as many people from the community to visit the pool in order to have the best payback model and the most participation.
Temperature and depth are the two main factors of a pool, he said. Those two factors drive much of the activity programming at the pool.
“Whatever you do to a facility the first year it’s going to be a hit because it’s new and you renovated it,” Nachreiner said. “But will people continue to come?”
To help ensure patrons continue to visit, pool trends should be monitored.
Zero-depth entry is a popular trend for leisure pools, Nachreiner said.
“This is where you see most people hang out and this is their introduction to the water,” he said.
Popular trends also include interactive water sprays, water tables for toddlers, and play structures.
Nachreiner said the larger a play structure is, the more maintenance that is required.
Other trends include lazy rivers, water vortexes, and lap lanes.
“Therapy or wellness pools are a fast growing trend because a lot of communities are trying to get to what is an appealing and accommodating item for active, aging adults,” he said.
Nachreiner said there are many options when it comes to waterslides, including body slides, tube slides, speed slides, mat racer slides, looping slides, bowl slides and serpentine slides.
He said surf simulators are popular in attracting teenagers to a pool complex. The downside is they are expensive.
For awhile diving boards were being pulled out of pool complexes, but that trend has reversed, Nachreiner said.
Climbing walls are also being added to pool complexes.
Because they are highly interactive, splash pads are becoming a growing trend.
“Because there’s not standing water it requires minimal labor,” Nachreiner said.
Nachreiner shared examples of pool projects that WTI has helped create.
In Elkhorn, WTI replaced a pool. In that projects there are no remnants from the old pool other than the same hole was used. The original pool was 50-60 years old. The new pool has warm water lap lanes, as well as a leisure side, and a zero-depth entry. It includes a drop slide and slide for children.
In Lodi, WTI did what Nachreiner described as a “simple project.” It’s a shallow pool with a maximum depth of 4-1/2 feet. It includes casual fitness lanes, with some basketball hoops, which goes up to a zero-depth entry.
A recent project was the aquatic center in Merrill. He said this pool complex includes many of the trending features — lap lanes, diving well, zero-depth entry, floatables, two body slides that end in trays of water only 3-6 inches deep.
“You simply come down that slide and you skid to a stop,” Nachreiner said.
The benefit of this type of slide is it allows people who don’t know how to swim to still use the slide. It also allows smaller children to use the slide.
Nachreiner said the space required for the aquatic center in Merrill is similar to the space Clintonville has available if it is willing to go outside the existing fencing at the pool.
WTI was also involved in a pool complex in Manitowoc. That pool complex has a lazy river. An addition is being added to the current complex.
Nachreiner presented possible ideas for the Clintonville pool complex. He suggested replacing the existing wading pool with a splash pad. He also suggested keeping the existing pool shell, outline and perimeter of the pool and creating a zero-entry feature on the side of the pool the bathhouse is on. He described these suggestions as a basic model. He said there are other options available for the complex.
He said the estimated cost of the splash pad would be $400,000-$700,000. The estimated cost for the pool portion of the project would be $300,000-$500,000.
“The most successful recreational facility we see, combine as many forms of recreation into one facility as possible,” Nachreiner said.
He added, “The bigger the facility, the more you’re getting closer and closer to being a regional draw.”
Pool committee discussion
When the Clintonville Ad Hoc Pool Committee met a month later in early September, discussion of WTI’s presentation took place.
According to the meeting minutes, Committee Chairwoman Stephanie Hintz said the most economical choice for the project would be to keep the existing perimeter of the swimming pool and insert a new liner. She said Nachreiner informed her that it appeared a barrier wall could be relocated in order to convert the pool to a zero-depth entry perpendicular to what was presented by Nachreiner, and parallel with the deep end of the pool. The committee agreed with this suggestion.
Hintz also suggested a splash pad be installed where the existing wading pool is located. She also pointed out that the splash pad and youth area could be expanded to the concrete area currently between the two pools. Committee members agreed, also recommending a concrete pool deck area.
Hintz recommended incorporating Clintonville recreational, historical and tourism-based attractions into the water features of the children’s area. For example, a fire truck slide, mini fire truck and hydrant sprayer could be added to represent Seagrave Fire Apparatus and the FWD Museum.
It was discussed that by incorporating these items, it would promote features unique to Clintonville that might be of interest to pool patrons.
Committee member Todd Mattes also suggested incorporating a painted “abstract” map of the city of Clintonville on the concrete area of the splash pad. This map would show where attractions are geographically located.
Moving to the swimming pool itself, Hintz suggested adding two body slides, similar to the body slides to those at the Mierman Family Aquatic Center in Merrill.
Committee member Sue Aschliman suggested that instead of traditional diving boards, the complex include a faux “rock” diving structure. A speed slide like the one in Merrill was also suggested.
Hintz recommended the bathhouse stay in its current location, which would provide expansion opportunities on the east and north sides.
Discussion concluded when the committee agreed that WTI would have to review the recommendations in order to ensure they are feasible. Hintz said she would provide the committee’s recommendations to WTI and city administration.
Merrill aquatic center
The Bierman Family Aquatic Center in Merrill was referenced by WTI, and was used by the pool committee as a reference when making recommendations for a possible new pool in Clintonville.
To provide readers with some background information about the aquatic center in Merrill, the Clintonville Tribune-Gazette researched that aquatic center through news articles that appeared in the Merrill Foto News, a sister publication of the Tribune-Gazette.
The municipal swimming pool at Stanges Park in Merrill closed in 2012 after 44 years. The new Bierman Family Aquatic Center opened this summer.
According to the Foto News, the city of Merrill first began researching in 2014 its options to open another pool. It took eight months to go from discussing a new pool to an official groundbreaking. To help make the new pool a reality a $4 million donation from the Bierman Family Foundation was given to the city. It was the largest single donation in city history.
The Bierman Family Aquatic Center is a 12,000-square-foot facility that includes a 7,400-square-foot swimming pool. The pool is a 6-lane competition lap pool. The facility also includes: a diving well with 1-meter and 3-meter diving boards and additional amenities for all ages including a climbing wall, basketball tethered floatables, zero-depth entry area, 10 vertical spray heads, 3-wide family slide, splash structure with five tipping buckets, play structure with “kiddie” slide, water gun, two water curtains, fountains, a tipping bucket, in-water seating with shade cover, shaded seating on the deck area, and two-flume waterslides with run-outs.
The estimated $4.5 million project was secured by Miron Construction of Neenah with a winning base bid of $3.6 million.
Season passes for Merrill residents were $100. The cost was $130 for non-residents. A family pass covered four members of an immediate family residing in the same household.
Day passes were $4 per person for ages 2-61. Children under 2 were free.
Current military and prior-service veterans as well as visitors over age 62 received a special rate of $2 per person for a day pass.
Merrill Parks and Recreation Director Dan Wendorf said the revenue generated from fees would help offset the overall operating cost of the aquatic center.
“I want to emphasize this will not be a ‘for-profit’ business,” Wendorf was quoted in the Foto News. “This is a quality-of-life service we are providing to the community. We most likely will not even break even in terms of revenue versus operating and maintenance cost, but these fees will certainly help. This facility will be a tremendous asset to our community as well as those in outlying communities.”
The Bierman Family Aquatic Center opened in early June.