MARION — The city of Marion is taking the first steps of planning for a new aquatic center.
The city is conducting an online outdoor aquatic center feasibility study to get a read on what Eastern Iowans would like to see in a new aquatic facility in Marion.
The survey can be accessed through the city’s website, cityofmarion.org. The survey is open through Oct. 30.
Seth Staashelm, interim parks and recreation director, said the Marion pool at Willowwood Park has about six to seven “years of life” left.
“There are difficulties in how it’s withholding,” Staashelm said.
The Marion pool opened in 1987 and has been a summer hot spot for a couple of generations of Marion residents. But in recent years, attendance has declined. The facility also has ongoing maintenance issues, Staashelm said.
Through the process, the city will decide whether to use the area that houses the pool or build somewhere else.
“It will not be something where we will have two pools operating,” Staashelm said. “ ... If we do it at the same location, we won’t have a pool for a season.”
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In 2018, residents said an updated outdoor aquatic center with water parklike features was the No. 1 idea through the city’s ImagiNEXT Community Visioning process.
“We’re looking at what we’re doing beyond the life of the pool,” Staashelm said. “From our current study, we will be looking at what the needs are for an outdoor aquatic center … Finding out everything the community wants, whether its bells and whistles or swimming needs for programming and everything in between or above.”
The survey asks residents to rank personal importance preferences on different features or amenities for a new aquatic center. Survey takers can choose whether they find large slides, obstacle courses, diving boards and various programs are more important than other preference choices.
“We’re really wanting to learn what the community is looking for in an aquatic center. The community is driving it,” Staashelm said. “Not so much us at Parks and Rec driving it.
“We want the community to feel this is theirs and have ownership in it.”
On Oct. 21, the city will hold an open house to discuss the current conditions and desired features for a new aquatic facility. In-person and virtual meeting options will be available.
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