Metro-East aquatic center needs major repairs but funding is an issue

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by Chris Stanford / News 4

KMOV.com

Posted on June 19, 2014 at 9:28 PM

Updated Thursday, Jun 19 at 10:45 PM

(KMOV) -- The Wood River Aquatic Center needs work and the repairs may cost so much that city leaders said building a brand new center is not an option.

Mayor Fred Ufert estimates that a new aquatic center would cost $8 million to $10 million. 

"I think that's pretty big and I don't think they could squeeze that amount out of this town,” said Charlene Hayes, a mother from East Alton who often brings her son to the pool.

The pool at the Aquatic Center continues to leak, but not as bad as before.  About 3,000 to 5,000 gallons escapes the pool daily compared to about 27,000 gallons a day it was losing before.  The water lost this season will cost about $5,000 said Ufert. 

“It needs an overhaul, we need to get through this season, said Fred Slow, the Aquatics Manager for Wood River Parks & Recreation.

Ufert said there are currently four options to address the looming pool repairs: build new, build smaller, repair the current pool, or do nothing.  Paying for the repairs by raising fees does not appear feasible.  The center does not bring in enough to pay for the $300,000 it costs to operate it annually. 

A referendum could be used to ask Wood River voters how to solve the pool issues. 

"A lot more than just the resident of Wood River use this pool,” said James Knapp of Wood River who brought his family to the pool.  “I would think the surrounding cities, Alton, Bethalto, some of these other cities that pools but they’re much smaller and they come here, so I think it would be in everybody's best interest to get something on a larger scale involved”.

The full extent of the needed repairs won’t be known until the pool is drained at the end of the season.

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