Planning the Future of Worthington Pools
September 23, 2023
With Labor Day behind us and municipal elections about to happen, SwimInc (the manager of Worthington Pools) wants to remind everyone in the community of the urgent need to redevelop outdoor aquatic facilities on the grounds of Thomas Worthington High School, which date back to 1954. Representatives of our non-profit explained this need to the City Council on February 6th. And around that time, SwimInc commissioned Brandstetter and Carroll (an architectural-engineering firm) to assess redevelopment options.
Resulting from this assessment was a proposal to reconstruct the three outdoor pools, the changing and concession areas, and related infrastructure at an overall cost of $15.4 million. Between the monetary advantages of rebuilding the aquatic complex where it already exists as well as the economies identified both by Brandstetter and Carroll and by SwimInc, the $15.4 million price-tag is millions of dollars less than the cost of building a brand-new complex of comparable or even smaller dimensions anywhere else in this city.
These cost-savings are reason enough to undertake a generational investment in outdoor aquatic recreation as soon as possible. Maria Andersen (an architect as well as SwimInc’s vice president) provides additional justification for quick action in a letter to the City Council dated July 26th. With all the major projects getting underway in central Ohio during the next year or so, Andersen observes, construction costs are projected to rise. Lining up a qualified contractor, she adds, will become more of a challenge as well.
Another reason not to put off reconstruction has to do with interest rates. As the Wall Street Journal reported on September 8th, corporate bond sales are now the highest they’ve been in 15 years, which implies that the most creditworthy borrowers in the United States think that interest rates are on their way up, not down. In light of those borrowers’ actions, expecting the cost of financing reconstruction of the outdoor aquatic complex to decline or even remain the same would be imprudent.
Something else to keep in mind is that Thomas Worthington High School will be completely renovated a little more than two years from now, in early 2026. What should the school district do then about decades-old pools on its property if the City of Worthington refuses to invest in outdoor aquatic recreation – as every municipality for miles around does?
Suppose the City of Worthington forgoes the economical option of comprehensive reconstruction of the outdoor pool complex on the grounds of Thomas Worthington High School. Suppose also that Worthington City Schools opts for another use of the land where the existing complex is located. Outdoor aquatic recreation for the general public will continue in this community only if an investment exceeding $15.4 million is made, a smaller facility is built, or a combination of the two.
This will be the outcome of not reinvesting in the outdoor pools now. Is it the outcome this community wants?