Newton planning workshop starts Wednesday

Newton leaders are discussing the city's swimming pool and recreation department demands, crime rates and the financial outlook for the future.

Those topics among others are included on the agenda for Newton City Council's annual planning workshop that begins at 1 p.m. on Wednesday. The workshop continues through noon on Friday and all sessions will be held at the Newton Depot.

The meetings are open to the public.

Newton's planning workshop begins Wednesday with discussion about the city's swimming pool, program participation, and possible recreation alternatives to the pool, such as a sprayground.

The topic arises after Newton City Council in January voted to open the swimming pool during the summer ahead. Doing so would require an investment of more than $85,250 for one swimming season, which includes usual costs associated with operating the pool, as well as $17,400 to make the facility compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Since 2006, Newton has invested nearly $175,000 in facility upgrades to the pool, including a new pump system, drain modifications and other renovations. The city's recreation director, Sandra Waters, told Newton City Council in January that the city could be required to replace the drain system and shower stalls at a cost of up to $35,000.

Meanwhile, during summer 2011, the pool attracted total attendance of 1,798 during the three months it was open, with a high attendance of 77 and a low of four swimmers. The pool brought in about $7,300 during summer 2011.

Before City Council voted in January to open the pool during the summer ahead, Council and recreation commission member Bill Lutz said the Newton Recreation Department is facing other needs outside the pool.

"We have got volleyball, indoor soccer and basketball. These programs are bursting at the seams. There is nowhere to practice — no facilities available. It is like musical chairs to accommodate the people we have. ... Am I wrong to say we could accommodate more?"

Lutz also added that investments to the city's Jacobs Fork Park softball complex could make it eligible to host more tournaments and generate revenue for the city.

Waters is expected to provide details on program participation when the workshop opens Wednesday afternoon, along with information about the prospect of converting the pool into a sprayground.

Also on tap for Wednesday is discussion about the future of the Central Recreation Center and adjacent buildings which were recently vacated by Head Start. A Jacobs Fork Park Master Plan will also be discussed on Wednesday.

Agenda items for the remaining days of the workshop follow.
• 8 a.m.: Police — Annual crime report.
• 8:30 a.m.: Police — Demonstration of the RMS, CAD and FRS.
• 9:30 a.m.: Police — Animal Shelter.
• 10:30 a.m.: Fire — Fire Station 1; annual report.
• 11:30 a.m.: Information Systems — Update on city Wi-Fi surveillance; Public Information Office — Social media, video projects.
• 1 p.m.: Public works — Public works facility.
• 2:45 p.m.: Public works — Automatic Meter Infrastructure.
• 3:45 p.m.: Public works — Water/sewer report.

• 8 a.m.: Public works — Electric, report from staff.
• 9:30 a.m.: Finance — Mid-year review and financial outlook for future years.
• 10:45 a.m.: Finance — Draft CIP.
• 12 p.m.: Budget directives from council.