The Wave of the Future pool upgrade project rolls forward

Dave Burbach, of Burbach Aquatics, Inc., shared images and information on eight Iowa swimming pool refurbishment projects completed by the company. In Missouri Valley, where the pool stands along the highway, Burbach stated, "The community was stagnant, but the pool was a sparkplug. Things have really taken off." (Press photo by Molly Moser)

By Molly Moser

“You’re embarking on an exciting venture to upgrade your pool,” said an enthusiastic Dave Burbach, of Burbach Aquatics, during a presentation he gave at last week’s recreation board meeting. The board has been discussing options for the 40-year-old swimming pool since last fall. With the new city manager in place, the project can continue after a four-month hiatus.

Burbach described Guttenberg’s pool refurbishment as a ‘gateway project,’ because it is highly visible from the highway as visitors enter the city from the north. According to Burbach, that's a critical point in determining how much emphasis should be given to the pool project. “It shows quality of life,” he told the board.  “Families looking to move compare assets in communities. The family will be nested where they think they’re going to have the best environment for their children.”

Burbach Aquatics, Inc., is a full-service architecture and engineering firm operating out of Platteville, Wis., that specializes in aquatic recreation facilities. Following a holistic evaluation of the Guttenberg pool facilities, Burbach provided recommendations for refurbishing the current swimming pool.

“Some areas of the pool vessel have deteriorated concrete. That cannot be salvaged,” said Burbach. In the case of Guttenberg’s pool, upgrading is possible as long as certain areas are completely replaced – specifically, the north pool wall, which is the weakest part of the vessel. With Burbach’s recommended renovations, the life of the pool will be extended an estimated 15 to 20 years. 

“In Burbach Aquatics’ opinion, the idea of adding zero-depth entry is a good one. We see it as an affordable option for the city,” Burbach explained. In this scenario, the north wall and nonfunctional wading pool would be removed and would become the zero-depth entry area. 

Al Ullerich, volunteer lifeguard and pool supervisor, regularly swims two miles a day in Guttenberg’s pool. “What will happen to our lap lanes?” he asked Burbach. “How will we turn?” Burbach explained that ultimately, those decisions would be the responsibility of a pool refurbishment committee, which is yet to be established. 

Becky Knudtson, a rec board member who works side by side with Ullerich at the pool, stated, “Ideally we’d like to keep our deep end, have our lanes, and our zero depth entry, and nothing interferes with the other.” 

Burbach recommended a pool committee of nine voting members be established. The committee will work hand-in-hand with Burbach Aquatics to decide on the best version of the final project. Members will be responsible for raising community support, fundraising, and giving a formal presentation of the final version to the city council. 

Moving forward, Burbach will work with the pool committee to complete a thorough study of just what Guttenberg needs in a swimming pool facility. This includes determining the appropriate amount of water surface area for the community, meeting with past pool managers and members of the public, and defining financing options for the $300,000 to $400,000 refurbishment project. 

Prior to an official fundraising kickoff, pool supporters have already donated roughly $30,000. Knudtson foresees a capital fundraising campaign for at least half of the required funds. With the City of Guttenberg undertaking several costly projects, like the one on Acre Street, members of the rec board are unsure of the financial standing of the city at this point.  

Burbach outlined the timing of the project, which will require an exhaustive study so that a solid plan can be established. He expects to begin construction by the end of the swimming season in 2015, and have the refurbished pool ready for use by the beginning of the 2016 season. 

“The pool is a community asset and a community service,” said Knudtson. Those interested in helping with fundraisers are encouraged to contact the city office. Checks can be made payable to City of Guttenberg – Pool Fund, and mailed to P.O. Box 580. 

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