Council action to preserve Memorial Park Natatorium

By NICOLE SMITH
Posted 4/18/19

The Jasper City Council has approved a bid for a project to benefit visitors of Memorial Park Natatorium for years to come.A resolution has been approved to replace a dehumidifier at the natatorium …

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Council action to preserve Memorial Park Natatorium

Posted

The Jasper City Council has approved a bid for a project to benefit visitors of Memorial Park Natatorium for years to come.

A resolution has been approved to replace a dehumidifier at the natatorium that is essential for controlling humidity at the indoor pool. Had the council not supported the project, there would have been ramifications to the structure of the building.

Memorial Park Natatorium Director Stacy Smothers explained Wednesday that the building's current dehumidifier is no longer operating efficiently and could cause harm to fixtures surrounding the indoor pool.  

"Controlling the humidity in the indoor pool is a unique challenge and of utmost importance to the structure of the enclosure," Smothers said via email. "The area is naturally humidified as you heat the water in the pool to a comfortable temperature. This process often creates too much humidity in the air, which can lead to mold and mildew, structural damage, uncomfortable air quality, and even health issues for the staff and patrons.

"Compounding the problem, when the heated water evaporates into the air, chemicals materialize as condensation. These chemicals may cause interior damage to objects and fixtures inside the space, prompting costly ongoing repairs. Using a dehumidifier stabilizes the pool environment and protects the facility. As you can see, this is a critical piece of equipment for the Natatorium."

The council approved a bid of just over $800,000 from contractor Comfort Systems USA, Jasper City Clerk Kathy Chambless confirmed. Jasper Mayor David O'Mary said Jeffcoat Mechanical Services Inc. is serving as the consultant for the project.  

"We're pleased the funding for this dehumidifier will come out of money we borrowed at the beginning of 2017," O'Mary said. "We earmarked about half a million dollars for the dehumidifier, thinking that would be the cost. It turns out it comes in about $817,000. Fortunately, we have the money to take care of this without borrowing money."

O'Mary said the dehumidifier for the Natatorium has to be manufactured, which is why it may be four to six months before it will be fully installed.

"It's a pretty massive piece of equipment that has to have special support to mount within the roof structure of the building," O'Mary said. "The vent systems in the Natatorium, as we're told, were not installed correctly when the Natatorium was built, so those will be reconfigured to make it more efficient."

He said dehumidifiers are expected to last 10 years, and the Natatorium's dehumidifier has not been replaced since it opened in June 2003, making the existing piece of equipment nearly 16 years old.

O'Mary hopes additional repairs will not be needed once work begins on the vent system. 

"We have some concerns right now, and we hope the chemicals and condensation have not weakened our roof structure," he said. "If they have, we have another big expenditure."

The Natatorium offers many swim experiences for the public, from general swimming to a Jasper Swim Team.

Swim meets and lessons are also held at the facility, and senior citizens hold water therapy classes at the indoor pool.

"The Natatorium has a lot of usage. We're pleased about that, and we want it to be as comfortable and in the best condition it can be in," O'Mary said. "It's a great facility for our city."

Much of the vent work and dehumidifier replacement will take place at night and should not impact daily operations, O'Mary said. The project is expected to be complete by early this fall.