Indoor pool issue in Blanding keeps returning

by Kara Laws
Making improvements to the Blanding Wellness Center was raised again during the process of considering future city projects. One of the projects that was mentioned is to add an indoor pool to the Blanding Wellness Center for year-round use.
Questions if the city could cover the costs of a year-round pool have been asked since the facility opened. The council considered an indoor pool when the facility was approved in 2009 and determined that it was not cost effective.
A seasonal outdoor pool is part of the Wellness Center. It opens during the summer months and closes during the cooler part of the year.
Councilman Lyman said an indoor pool was never part of the original project, despite the many area residents who have believed for years that an indoor pool will still happen.
However, the idea of an indoor pool did not end there and has continued to come up in city council minutes over the years.
In a recent city council planning meeting, Councilwoman Kd Perkins said she is often asked about an indoor pool and is interesting in looking into it as a future city project.
City Manager Jeremy Redd estimates that the cost of adding in indoor pool at this point would be approximately $600,000, and would add approximately $50,000 per year in operating costs.
A pass for a family of five is approximately $60 a month. As a result, it would take an additional 70 family passes each year just to pay for the annual operating costs.
The discussion of Wellness Center improvements started in the work meeting, came up again in city council, and then spilled over to social media.
The origins of the Blanding Wellness Center go back to 2003, when the College of Eastern Utah approached the city with the idea of working together to create a wellness center at the college.
The plan changed through 2004 and 2005 as the city pulled out of working with CEU, re-vamped the current pool and set aside funds to develop a completely separate wellness center.
In 2009, the city received bids for Wellness Center designs, both with and without an indoor lap pool. Later that year, a revised Wellness Center grant request was approved that did not include an indoor pool. In October, 2009, a contract was approved.
The next month, the city council considered re-submitting a grant application for an additional $475,000 to build an indoor pool as part of the Wellness Center. After consideration, consent was not given to send the application.
In a recent un-official, online poll, (which did not mention a pool to start) more than 150 people agreed with a statement that the Wellness Center needs an indoor pool.
Several elderly residents said a pool is needed for physical therapy and winter exercise, when walking outdoors is cold and has the risk of falls.
Janet Wilcox said, “Now that Blanding has better health/hospital facilities, there will be more older folks who choose to remain here. An indoor pool will become even more important to the older generation who is not benefited much by this facility during the cold months.”
One idea discussed in the survey is a bubble to cover the outdoor pool in the cold months and allow it to be used throughout the year.
Kristin Black hopes for an indoor pool, saying, “I have a child that has a lot of physical therapy, and a pool would be wonderful for him.”
Kimberly Hiatt added, “A city should advocate for its citizens’ health especially in this digital age and where obesity rates in our country have skyrocketed. Sure, it boils down to individual responsibility, but … quality of life/the opportunities to improve citizens’ quality of life should be a council-person’s concern.”
Diane Balch said, “I think it is time Blanding City started thinking about the Senior Citizens, who have paid a lot of taxes in this city. Most of us would benefit from an indoor pool because of therapy for bad hips or knees.”

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