TOLEDO — In the year since the Greater Toledo Pool District took over the city pool, a lot of improvements have been made — but there are more dramatic changes on the way. The board of directors recently announced a series of construction plans for the Greater Toledo Pool, which may take years to complete but could make a difference for the entire town.
“We plan on doing it in a three-phase system,” explained district manager Paul Steenkolk. “We plan on replacing the natatorium (the building which houses the pool) first. Phase two would be to replace the pool.”
The third phase is to expand the bathhouse area: making all bathrooms ADA compliant, revamping the locker rooms and adding in two family changing rooms.
The plan is to replace the pool second because they want to make a couple of changes to the pool, the first being an extra lane, which the current natatorium doesn’t have room to accommodate. The other major change will be in the depth of the pool, which will be changed to comply with OSAA standards and make it possible for the Greater Toledo Pool to host swim meets.
Steenkolk believes that that could be a gamechanger for the town as a whole.
“I feel that if we were able to host swim meets and special swimming events — all-comers meets, things like that — that that would draw people, schools, communities into our community,” he said. “When people come into your community, they spend money. That’s what I want; I want to have a facility that will draw people in from other communities to spend money in our community.”
That economic boost is just one part of the pool’s mission in the community — the other being to provide a family-centric community center. This second goal will be achieved through the new and expanded natatorium, which will include a multi-purpose room and a weight room that has windows looking out onto the pool, allowing parents to work out dry while keeping an eye on their children in the pool. These new facilities could further expand uses for the pool and drive in more visitors.
“I’m not trying to build a pool,” said Steenkolk, “I’m trying to rebuild a community.”
Steenkolk commented that the board would like to see construction begin next year, though ultimately that will depend on when enough funds are obtained to begin — and that could take some time, since the plan is not to depend on the district’s taxpayers for the money and the construction cost estimate for phase one alone is $2.5 million.
“What we’re hoping,” said Steenkolk, “is through government grants, private grants and through donations — either locally or around the country — (to) hopefully reach the goal of the monies needed to start (phase one) … We’re not asking (the taxpayers) for anything.”