The Nebraska City Swimming Pool Committee met for the first time Wednesday following the defeat of a sales tax proposal to build a new swimming pool.
Nine people attended, including seven who had never been to a committee meeting before. Tim Stewart, an engineer at American Meter, was selected as chairman.
The group discussed the next steps for the pool. City officials said the existing pool is well-beyond its expected lifespan and said it will cost millions to upgrade it. The baby pool will not open for the summer of 2013 because leaks in the basin cause it to run dry every day.
The group discussed reasons why the sales tax proposal failed. A half cent increase in the sales tax was expected to provide $550,000 a year to finance a $3.4 million aquatic center.
The proposed pool would have included a zero-entry wade pool, slide plunge pool, water walk and shade deck. It would also include a new bathhouse and concession area.
City officials say the zero-entry wade pool is demanded by federal disability law. To open the existing pool next summer, the city will have to install a chair lift that is expected to cost over $100,000.
Stewart said the meeting was a good starting point.
"We tried to itemize issues, including location, the functioning of the pool and design," he said.
Katie Digman, a stay-at-home mom from Nebraska City, said the meeting left her optimistic.
"I think building awareness in the community will help us move forward," she said.
Jan Pummel of Nebraska City said she came to meeting to get more information.
She said the reliability of the existing pool is in question and she is concerned that the baby pool will not open next year.
"I don't want this city to lose one more thing for our children to do. It takes a whole community to raise good children so let's not let them down now," she said.
The committee is scheduled to next meet at 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 27 at city hall.
The swimming pool proposition failed on a vote of 1,395 against and 1,110 in favor.
The proposal failed in five precincts and in absentee balloting.
It was approved only in the NC16 district, which is located primarly west of 19th Street and includes Steinhart Park.
It was least popular in NC11, which is east of Ninth Street and north of Fourth Corso. Overall, 55 percent voted against, but it was 58.2 percent in NC 11.