116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Highlights of Iowa City’s “Recreation Master Plan” include removing the Robert A. Lee (RAL) pool, adding an $8 million to $9 million warm water pool at Mercer, and renovating City Park pool, leaving only three outdoor lap lanes. Options for swimmers will be slashed.
Preserving the downtown RAL pool is the cheapest, most sustainable solution, yet is purportedly too expensive. RAL renovations, estimated at $4.5 million to $5 million, are about half the cost of the proposed Mercer warm water pool. The plan also omits estimates to decommission the RAL pool, undoubtedly another significant expense.
We worry that decision-makers are not responding to our community’s needs, instead relying on inadequate data. For example, surveys were posted and collected during the COVID-19 disruption, when facility use was curtailed. Community members have also reported being told at different meetings/open houses that the pool is “over a bomb shelter.” Historic documents demonstrate an architecturally sound pool; no such subterranean shelter exists. Finally, pool users’ objections have been downplayed.
RAL’s closure will leave locals of all ages and abilities without an accessible, downtown option for aquatic activities. We strongly support its renovation. If you share our concerns, please contact Iowa City Council members before their next meeting on June 21.