Friend pool

Hope Moural/FS

Andy Smith of Lamp Rynearson presents a potential layout for the Friend city pool at a town hall meeting July 23. 

Members of the Friend community got a sneak peek at potential city pool layouts during a town hall meeting. 

The meeting was hosted July 23 by the Friend Pool Committee to gain insight and feedback from the community as planning moves forward. 

“We hope to give you as much information as possible and answer questions you may have,” Kristen Milton, planning committee member, said. 

Also present during the meeting were members of the Southeast Nebraska Development District and Ameritas to discuss grants and financing and Andy Smith with Lamp Rynearson, a civil engineering company that has been involved with the project. 

 The current city pool was built in 1936 and is 7,900 square feet. Smith said the main concerns for the 83-year-old pool are updating code requirements, making the facility handicap accessible and spending too much money on chemical maintenance and filtration. 

Updating the city pool has been discussed since early last year, when shutting down the facility was proposed. After the pool committee was formed, a survey was sent out this past March. Some of those results were presented to the public in attendance, showing the majority of participants would like an updated pool. 

As the timeline stands now, a possible opening date for a new swimming facility in Friend would be Memorial Day of 2021. 

To keep on track, city council members will need to vote at next month’s meeting to put a question regarding a bond issue and city sales tax on the November ballot. 

“By statute, the city of Friend is required to vote for a project like the pool or anything that would fall under municipal building code,” Brad Slaughter of Ameritas said. “If it were to proceed, you might see a ballot question asking you about a $2 million or $3 million infrastructure, when they can actually ask less than that.” 

Smith presented four potential layouts for the city pool, including a pool heater, diving board and remodeling the existing bathhouse. 

A proposed budget for the project including partial demolition and remodeling is estimated to be around the $2.5 million range, according to Smith. 

During the meeting, committee members said they plan to use as much grant money as possible and issue bonds to fund the pool. 

“The increase in the city sales tax will hopefully make a large portion of the bond payment in addition to grants and fundraising before anything would be put on city property tax,” Julie Ricenbaw, pool committee member, said. 

Representatives from SENDD discussed grant options that would apply to a community the size of Friend and how sales tax would assist with funding. 

Currently, Friend has a 1% sales tax, one of the lowest in the area. 

“Understand this is not just for us. This is for everyone that stops into town (that would be contributing to the sales tax),” Milton said. 

Until next month’s city council meeting, where possible action can be taken, pool committee members will work on grant applications and finding ways to match money. 

A set location for an updated pool facility has yet to be decided.

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