Memories filled in

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The prospect of replacing the long-time municipal pool in Estherville was met with regret that a new generation may not get to enjoy it, and excitement at a new phase for the city.

Some longtime residents expressed their favor for refurbishing the existing pool, which was first built at the riverfront location in 1929 and refurbished by Moeller Construction in 1962.

There was no replacing the pool. In two evaluations, the city of Estherville was told the concrete basin was unstable, water loss issues were continuous, and the existing infrastructure was at the end of its useful life. Larkin Aquatics in 2010 and Burbach Aquatics in 2016 reached the same conclusion.

Estherville residents voted nearly two to one in favor of a bond to pay for a new pool.

This left the question of repurposing the old pool and site.

The renovation of the former pool site will be done in three phases.

Phase 1 at the old pool is site demolition, which is currently being done. Phase 2 is placing equipment as part of the new project. Phase 3, which is funded from the parks & recreation revolving fund and not the pool budget, will be converting the existing bathhouse, built in 1985, into two separate shelter spaces and a renovated restroom area.

The city awarded the low bid to Michaelson, Inc. of Armstrong at the beginning of 2021. Owner Michael Sjoblom told the city he planned to work beyond the bid-letting and break up and haul away all of the concrete specified.

The city plans to make the former pool site a diverse and fun area for families. The former baby pool structure and fence will stay and the plan includes creating a sand feature for young children and their carers on that site. After the pool vessel area is filled in, picnic tables and play equipment for children approximately ages 5-12 will go in, and for teens and adults, adventures include a low zip line toward the river and a challenge course reminiscent of Ninja Warrior Challenge for teens to adults. The poolhouse will stay and undergo renovations, Clayton said. The north side will have windows looking out to the river and an open area shelter while the center will be an indoor spot for a fully sheltered gathering experience. Clayton said the area would not include a refrigerator like Sanborn Shelter at Thoreson Park due to the former pool area’s location in the flood plain.

However, the possibility exists for a safety bar of grounded electrical outlets for crock pots, Instant pots and roasters to be plugged in.

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