Board backs aquatics center plan

By LEVI WORTS/Montana State News

The question of what to do about Bogert pool has been on the tip of citizens tongues for years. The iconic pool is the only outdoor public swimming center in all of Bozeman.

Unfortunately the pool has a massive leak and a boiler from the 1940s heater heating the water. The leak is hemorrhaging 8,000 to 10,000 gallons a day during operation and the boiler is hanging by a thread, according to Dan McCarthy, city aquatics director.

These problems coupled with other issues will take an estimated $2 million to fix. Bob Wade, Parks and Recreation Board member, said, “It’s like throwing good money after bad, and we are not sure Bogert pool will make it a week.”

According to McCarthy, the proposal is to “limp” the pool along until September before closing the doors for good. Then around Labor Day the entire structure will be demolished to make way for Bozeman’s first “splash park.”

The proposed splash park, if approved by the Bozeman City Commission, will be dedicated and opened by Memorial Day next year. There will be an extension of the parking lot into where the pool still sits. The project, including the demolition, is estimated to cost $1.2 million, said McCarthy.

There is opposition to the splash park. Salal Huber-McGee, a Parks and Recreation Board member, said, “The community will freak out.” Her argument was that the splash park does not adequately fill the gap of a swimming pool.

“Can’t we limp the pool along for one or two more years? We need to have swimming instead of a place to just get wet,” said Huber-McGee.

The response she received was from the director of the parks department, Mitch Overton. “We have been limping along for several years. It should have been fixed years ago, but it wasn’t,” said Overton.

The question is: what about a pool? The Bozeman City Commission charged the Parks and Recreation board to answer that question, according to David Cook, the board chairperson for Parks and Recreation.

McCarthy’s answer is a new outdoor/indoor all year aquatics center. The proposed outdoor pool alone will be 36 percent larger than Bogert pool. The outdoor pool will include “family recreational area with slides, lazy rivers,” and will also boast, “A capacity of 600 to 700 people,” said McCarthy.

The real draw of the plans is the proposed indoor portion of the pool, according to McCarthy. The indoor pool will feature a family recreational area as well as an eight-lane lap pool capable of hosting high school state swim meets.

The new aquatic center will also have a feature that neither Bogert, the Swim Center nor the indoor public pool in Bozeman has: a large multipurpose room, according to McCarthy. “The room can be used for birthday parties, adequate life guard training and a classroom for swim lessons,” said McCarthy.

The new aquatics center was estimated to cost $6.5 million dollars. The Parks and Recreation Board voted to pass the motion to bring the new proposal to the City Commission.

– Edited by Autumn Toennis

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