An indoor pool in Jefferson?

City initiates study into possible all-weather water feature

By Brandon Hurley
Managing Editor


An $845,000 private donation has initiated a push for an indoor pool.

Jefferson has begun the tedious climb to possibly installing an indoor water facility following city council approval on Tuesday night.
The Jefferson Parks and Recreation Board believes a pool addition to the Greene County Community Center is the best course of action for the generous donation handed out in 2020.
The Rory Autenreith Trust gifted $845,570.61 to the community center back in late 2020. The monies were explicitly stated to be used on the facility itself.
Parks and Rec director Dennis Hammen said an indoor pool is of top priority among the board.

The community center opened in 1998, eight years after her passing, a dream Autenreith never got to experience. The former local elementary teacher hoped Jefferson would some day christen a recreation center, which is why she chose to donate to the specific entity. If Jefferson never was built, the money would’ve gone to the Greene County Medical Center, the only other organization she chose to share her wealth with. The corporation received $1.2 million of Autenreith’s graciousness. The parks board must make a request for approval to the city council before the funds are spent.

“The board was trying to figure out what the best use of that money would be. Of course, it’s not enough to build a new pool, but if there’s an interest (we will do it),” Hammen said. “We are doing a feasibility study to figure out if it’s something the community wants. Put some figures together to see what the initial cost and maintenance would be. After that, we will put together a survey to see if there’s enough interest to move forward.”

Hammen said an indoor pool addition to the current community center would cost roughly in the neighborhood of $3 million, though that number isn’t concrete. The $845,000 donation will help provide a strong leg up, though the director said the city would have to find a way to raise the remaining monies.

“(An indoor pool) is the main interest for use of the money,” Hammen said. “But part of it is we need to get it out to the public.
The money is specifically for the community center building. We can’t move (put) pool anywhere else. That does kind of limit our choices.”
Hammen said they haven’t yet determined what type of pool would be added, and no dimensions have been discussed. The size and number of lanes are still up for discussion.
He believes fundraising wouldn’t be much of an issue, either.
OPN Architects will begin a study analyzing the potential for an addition to the Greene County Community Center, which includes the financial feasibility of a pool in addition to gauging community interest and need for such a facility.

“The board believes the way this community is able to come up with money, they would probably get the money to build it if that’s what the community really wanted,” Hammen said.

The biggest concern, Hammen added, would be if the community center can support continued upkeep of an indoor pool.

“We want to express to the public that the maintenance cost of a facility like this needs to be considered before we build,” the director said.
The project will be split into several different phases, with phase I beginning last night with the architectural study.
An indoor pool isn’t the only option, either. Hamman said the parks board will consider other ideas if the community doesn’t support this project, though the only plan they’ve had any significant movement on is the pool.

“If the interest continues and we find there is community backing, we’ll move on to the other phases and go ahead and try and put something more concrete together,” Hamman said. “If we don’t have the support for an indoor pool, of course, we will look at other projects.
We don’t want to get the cart out before the horse. This is not saying we’re getting a pool, but we are at the very beginning.”

A hot-button issue seems to be nearing a resolution.

Jefferson’s outdoor pool will soon undergo a facilities makeover. The city council Tuesday approved a request for the parks and recreation department to seek out bids for the addition of four, gender neutral bathrooms.
The city council received numerous complaints for and against gender-neutral bathrooms over the summer months. This project seems to be a direct result of the concerns raised by many citizens.
The city of Jefferson will add family bathrooms to each side of the pool facility already fitted with locker rooms. Two of the bathroom stalls in each of the men’s and women’s side will be converted into a private room accessible to anyone, complete with a shower, sink and toilet. This reconstruction should allow greater accessibility as well as an option for customers to bypass bathrooms all together if they so choose instead of being required to either enter the men’s or women’s locker rooms upon entrance of the pool.

Parks and rec director Dennis Hammen said the additions will be rather simple. No exterior plumbing will be needed, just a few walls and partitions. Each locker room – both men’s and women’s – boasts six stalls. Two of those on each side will be converted into gender-neutral bathrooms, reducing the available stalls on the men’s and women’s side to four each.

“From all the parties we have talked to, this seems to be a good solution,” he said.

The city is not making an addition to the pool, simply reconfiguring the current bathrooms to help accommodate persons of all backgrounds and comfort levels. Hammen said he hopes the bathrooms will be completed by the summer once the bid is awarded.

“I’m pretty excited,” Hammen said. “It’s something I can see as an immediate benefit. The way I look at it, we are updating our restrooms to where they should be for 2022 standards. Any structure built today has family restrooms in it. We are just modernizing.”

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Jefferson, IA 50129

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