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Mitchell scales back pool plans to fit within budget

The city of Mitchell is working hard to keep its new aquatic center under budget. City Administrator Stephanie Ellwein told the Parks, Recreation & Forestry Committee that the city may have been planned for more family restrooms and seating t...

The city of Mitchell is working hard to keep its new aquatic center under budget.

City Administrator Stephanie Ellwein told the Parks, Recreation & Forestry Committee that the city may have been planned for more family restrooms and seating than necessary at the voter-approved $8.085 million aquatic facility. By cutting down on family restroom space and seating for audiences at swim meets, the city's costs are more likely to fall within the voter-approved budget.

The discussion, held at Mitchell Recreation Center, was part of Thursday's regularly scheduled Parks, Recreation & Forestry Committee meeting.

Ellwein said the pool committee, which was formed by Mayor Jerry Toomey, met this week with project designers Counsilman-Hunsaker after a recent trip to the Midco Aquatic Center in Sioux Falls to discuss possible plans for the Mitchell facility. After the trip to Sioux Falls, park board member Brian Johnson said Counsilman-Hunsaker was able to shave approximately 4,000-square-feet off the initial design without sacrificing any of Mitchell's pool space.

Johnson said the initial design planned for 28,500-square-feet, which would have fallen outside of the city's budget, but the new plan including a drop in family restrooms and audience seating knocked the plan down to 24,500-square feet.

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Ellwein said these realizations were made on the trip to the Midco Aquatic Center, where a contingent of Mitchell pool committee members found the substantially larger Sioux Falls facility included even less family restrooms than Mitchell's initial plan. Ellwein said the Sioux Falls facility only planned for three to five family restrooms while Mitchell was considering 12.

Ellwein also said the city learned Sioux Falls' facility includes seating for 500 attendees, which is how much seating the city of Mitchell had originally planned for. With the knowledge the group gained in Sioux Falls, Ellwein said they city could scale back to approximately 250 seats.

Ellwein also said the committee learned it needs to make the facility as flexible as possible, which was recommended by Counsilman-Hunsaker.

"Everybody always thinks price is the driving factor, and they said there are studies that show that's not it," Ellwein said. "The thing that's going to influence if someone choose to go there or not relies on whether it's clean, inviting and the amenities available."

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