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Possible Gates Pool still in play, but new agreement might add splash pad, inclusive playground

Pool 2

Children swim in the Gates Park swimming pool on July 13 in Waterloo. City officials are conducting a study on whether and how to replace the Gates and Byrnes swimming pools, both of which are nearly 40 years old.

WATERLOO — Whether or not Gates Park gets a new pool is still being discussed, but a new agreement to design other features at the park got the green light this week.

A contract for a new design for Gates Park was preliminarily approved by Waterloo Leisure Services on Tuesday, and could connect both “Big Gates” and “Little Gates” parks via trail, move around amenities impacted by the flood wall protecting nearby residents, and add things like a splash pad and inclusive playground.

The $52,700 design contract, most of which will be paid for with private grants, now heads to the City Council for final approval. It could lead to a plan recommending somewhere around $4 million for improvements to Gates, said Paul Huting, the city’s leisure services director, though he cautioned that was a “guesstimate.”

“This is not a detailed design,” at this stage, Huting said. “It’s a, ‘Let’s make a decision of what elements we want to have in the park, and then we’ll show a rendering of what they might look like.’”

Those elements could include improvements to parking and accessibility, landscaping and otherwise beautifying the flood wall, lighting and upgrading the basketball courts, and adding aquatic features like a splash pad and a disability-inclusive playground.

Waterloo would have added an inclusive playground at Edison Park, but the developer who agreed to pay for it pulled his project, citing neighbors’ opposition to his housing development. Huting said a playground at Edison is “certainly not dead,” but that other funders he declined to name expressed “a lot of interest” in the Gates Park space.

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“There’s quite a bit of excitement about moving that to Gates,” Huting said.

The design contract for Gates amenities is handled done by Ritland+Kuiper Landscape Architects, the same firm that designed the Lincoln Park upgrades downtown, Huting said.

Low bids boost Lincoln Park upgrade

The company is working in tangent with Ballard King, which is developing a citywide aquatic master plan that could include pools or other elements at Gates Park as well as Byrnes Park and a possible indoor competition facility at the Cedar Valley SportsPlex. That aquatic master plan “is due here soon,” Huting said.

Study looking at replacing Byrnes and Gates pools, both turning 40

“The two things are working together, so they’ll look at the whole plan,” he said.

Waterloo residents voice opinions on local pools

Separately, the board approved raising recreation program fees, SportsPlex membership rates and daily rates for the city’s golf courses beginning next year. The fees at SportsPlex also will rise for most categories by about $3 per month effective Feb. 1. There will also be two new categories of memberships: adult plus, which includes a club locker; and family plus, which includes child care. Monthly prices for couples, club lockers and child care were unchanged, and an annual adult membership dropped by $6.

Sports and aquatics clinics and rec league prices also generally are rising on Feb. 1, by $3 to $8. Pool season passes, the Mayor’s More Than Basketball league, USSSA league and TKO prices are not changing.

Daily fees at the city’s three golf courses are generally rising by a dollar, with some exceptions, and a new “college mini season ticket” for $150 was being offered, but only to members of the new Hawkeye Community College golf team for in-season play. Season rates were already increased last year and remain unchanged.

Waterloo Council approves increased golf rates for some groups

Staff noted pay raises to attract and keep part-time employees, plus major increases in current and projected energy bills — particularly gas, to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars more — contributed to the decision to make rate increases.

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Reporter covering Waterloo, Black Hawk Co. and politics

UNI political communications/journalism grad. Alum of The Calumet (MCC), The Northern Iowan (UNI), Fergus Falls (Minn.) Daily Journal and KWWL. 4-time award-winner while at The Courier. Interested in exposing wrongdoing and holding power to account.

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