Bozeman City Commissioners voted 4-1 to hire two outside firms to study the possibility of building a new pool, other recreational facilities or both.
The city will hire Comma-Q Architecture Inc. of Bozeman and Barker, Rinker and Seacat Architecture of Denver to conduct the study. It's expected to cost roughly $65,000.
Deputy mayor Jeff Krauss cast the lone dissenting vote.
"Were going to spend 65K to verify our gut feeling" that people want a new pool, he said. "Wow."
Commissioner Carson Taylor said people stop him in the street and tell him that Bozeman needs another pool. He said the study will prevent the city from making mistakes that could cost taxpayers a lot of money.
"I think this is money well spent in the taxpayers' interest in the long run," Taylor said.
Commissioner Chris Mehl asked if the study would do more than simply ask residents if they want a pool and what they'd be willing to pay for it.
Superintendent of Parks and Recreation Ron Dingman said Barker, Rinker and Seacat has worked on 500 similar projects and 175 of them have resulted in new facilities. The majority didn't come to fruition because the community wasn't ready, Dingman said.
"Do you honestly think the study will say don't (build a pool) now? It's too early," Mehl asked Dingman.
"My gut feeling is no, but I don't know," Dingman responded. "That's why we're doing the study."
The study will include an inventory and analysis of Bozeman's existing recreational and aquatic facilities and programs, market analysis, meetings with stakeholders and potential partners, and meetings with the public, according to Dingman.
The architectural firms also will evaluate opportunities to partner with other public and private entities for aquatic facilities, Dingman said. Potential partners may include the Bozeman School District, YMCA, Bozeman Deaconess Hospital and Gallatin County.
Commissioners removed an item in the study that would poll residents about whether they want a new pool. Instead, they said, asking residents for a new pool should be reserved a public vote.
Bozeman has two pools, Bogert Pool and the Swim Center. Bogert Pool was remodeled in 1975, the same year the Swim Center was built. Over the next five years, the city's Capital Improvement Plan, a schedule used to save for infrastructure expenses, calls for spending $1.3 million on pool maintenance.
Amanda Ricker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 582-2628.