Nebraska City's Splash Committee is hoping to have a sale tax proposal on the ballot this fall for a new aquatic park by 2016.

City commissioners accepted the Splash Committee's request Monday to seek professional proposals for construction of a new aquatic center.

Committee member Jim Kuhn said the city is interested in companies that specialize in swimming pool construction.

"We are hoping to attract a professional aquatic design company to get the most splash for our buck," he said.

He said the company will help locate, design, promote and build the aquatic center.

In June, the committee sought JEO Consulting's opinion regarding whether the new pool can be built at the location of the current pool. Pool location remained a topic of discussion, but the committee generally agreed that it would have to be somewhere in Steinhart Park.

The committee also sponsored a survey this summer asking what citizens expect in a new pool.

Top responses were swimming lanes, zero depth play area, shade areas, circle slide and diving boards.

Members of Nebraska City Swim Team told the committee in August that an eight-lane pool would attract swim meets.

Kuhn said Monday that the city needs to get going on the pool project.

"We don't know if the old pool will make it another season or not," he said.

A 2012 proposal for an aquatic park on the Central Avenue side of Steinhart Park failed.

Voters were asked to approve half cent sales tax to raise $550,000 a year for fiber optics and a 12,000 square foot aquatic center. The proposed pool was six lanes rather than eight lanes and was expected to cost $3.4 million.

Kuhn said the committee would like to have a site selected and an issue ready for the ballot in November of 2014.

He said the committee was encouraged by Dan Kelly of St. Mary's Community Hospital regarding construction timeline.

"If they can build a hospital in 12 months, we can build a pool in 12 months," Kuhn said.

He said the aquatic center could open by June 2, 2016.

The existing pool is not handicap accessible and is showing its age.

Shortly after it opened for the season in 2008, the pool was closed for two days for pump repairs. City officials reported that the equipment was failing and replacement parts were scarce, if available at all.

In 2009, Dave Henke of JEO Consulting reported that the pool's re-circulation system is too slow and the equipment is so fragile he could not pressure test the lines.

He did not identify a health threat, but said pool standards call for faster re-circulation.

The closing of the baby pool in 2013, is blamed for a 44 percent drop in attendance.

The pool had an attendance of 16,214 in the season ending 2012, but had over 7,000 fewer visitors last year with a total of 9,012.

Family passes dropped by 23 percent and swimmers charged daily admission dropped from 3,787 to 2,790. Baby pool admission went from 671 to zero.