Virtual forum coming for Ontario's pool

The Ontario Recreation District plans to host community forums online to get feedback on planning for the future of the pool and whether to keep it as an indoor or outdoor facility.

ONTARIO — Members of the Ontario community looking to voice their opinions or ask questions about the future of the Ontario Aquatic Center will be able to do so at an upcoming forum of the Ontario Recreation District.

Recreation District Director Andrew Maeda said he is planning on hosting at least two virtual forums in the near future, with the first being on Wednesday at 1 p.m.

The second one will be on Friday. 

Maeda said the forums will be done via Facebook Live, so that the archived videos will be immediately available to anyone looking to view them.

Survey says!

Ontario Recreation District posted a survey on its website and social media platforms late last week. As of Thursday night, Maeda said there were 180 responses, with an even 90-90 split on whether they thought Ontario should go for an indoor or outdoor pool.

Maeda said one of the most helpful parts of the survey was that he also got 180 questions asked, which he said he will address at the forum. He also had 58 people volunteer to help with the reopening project in some capacity.

The options

The options that Design West came up ranged in cost from $2.5 million to $4.2 million, and were generally in one of two categories: outdoor or indoor.

Maeda said the district is able to commit about $300,00 per year to the aquatic center and is currently on pace to having about $700,000 saved up by the end of the 2020-21 fiscal year to put toward reopening the pool.

The outdoor options, of which there are three, are the cheapest overall; they range from $2.5 million to $3.1 million. In two of the options, the roof and exterior walls would be demolished and the pilasters and beams would be refinished while newly exposed walls would be insulated to outdoor code. One of those options also includes a design component that creates a direct line of sight and physical access between the pool and the Ontario Splash Park.

During Thursday’s meeting, Design West’s Chris Vondemkamp brought the sixth option, which was a complete demolition of the building, leaving just the pool. That came out to a similar price as the other two outdoor options.

For year-round pool use, the Pool Committee would need to seek the indoor options. There are three options for the indoor pool, all of which give the pool the ability to operate both in an outdoor and indoor capacity:

• Demolishing the existing roof, refinishing the pilasters and beams and fitting a temporary structure.

• Demolishing the existing roof, refinishing the pilasters and beams and fitting an inflated dome to enclose the pool.

• Renovation of the roof and the skylights, removal of portions of the exterior walls and fitting the openings with a skirting system.

According to the Design West plan, the first option would likely need a tensioned fabric structure (one that will need to be custom made) as one that’s not made in that capacity would struggle with the air pressure in the building. According to Vondemkamp, a pool space requires negative air pressure to prevent overly humid and chemical-filled air from moving around the building, and air-inflated structure would require positive air pressure to support its weight.

In the case of the inflated dome, Design West said it was an option, but it would be hard to do, as it would likely affect the space around the pool, making it not to code.

One issue with the indoor options that were presented, he said, is that the temporary structures will lead to high energy costs as they will lose heat during the cold months. Maeda also added that indoor pools tend to have a shorter lifespan, as they are more expensive to maintain. He said if Ontario were to decide on an indoor pool right away, then they run the risk of facing closing it again as the costs of keeping it open rise.

The indoor options do not include any work on locker rooms, restrooms or the lobby area, which would have to be renovated in a future project.

In all of the options that were submitted to the Recreation District, $1.3 million is estimated for “basic renovations and repairs” to the existing pool. This includes items like new piping and sealing cracks.

A complete replacement of the current pool would cost up to $1.65 million, Vondenkamp said.

Hamlin said that if the Recreation District is able to decide on what it wants and gets the funding in line, the construction could take between one to two years to complete, depending on what season the work starts.

Nik Streng is the sports reporter for the Argus Observer. He graduated from the University of Oregon in 2015 with a master's degree in journalism, after graduating from Pacific University in 2013 with a degree in creative writing.

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