The Mat-Su Borough is finalizing plans for renovations to the Wasilla and Palmer pools. Architects had to go back to the drawing board, however, after the initial designs got pushback from swimmers.

Library and Recreation Division Manager Hugh Leslie said both pools were built more than 35 years ago and are in need of repair.

The borough had designs drawn up in 2013 that were shelved due to lack of funding. Leslie said after a bond measure passed last year, those plans came back but some Wasilla seniors weren’t happy with the proposed “two-pool” design that separated the lap lanes from the swimming area.

“It was horrible,” said James Pecore, a regular swimmer at the Wasilla pool. “They were getting rid of the deep end I use constantly.”

Paul Pierce, another Wasilla regular, agreed the plans needed some work. “It was a poor design because it put a lot of limitations on what could be done at the pool. The way the pool is right now is just perfect.”

The new design for Wasilla keeps the same general layout but adds an improved ramp for access and another diving board. Leslie said he was surprised at how much people opposed the 2013 designs but was glad they voiced their opinions.

“Our user groups were very clear that they were looking to similar designs to what we have. These are their pools, although the Borough maintains them, the public is the one who uses it and enjoys them and we want to give them what they wanted,” Leslie said.

Now that swimmers approve the plans, Leslie said the biggest challenge will be the scheduling logistics once the pools are under construction.

The two-year, $12.6 million project will be done in two phases. The Wasilla pool will close first, moving all of their user groups to the Palmer pool for at least a year.

“Swimming will be crowded, traditional swim times will be adjusted,” Leslie said, adding there are 12 different groups between the swim teams, lap swimmers and kids taking lessons. “We're going to ask people to be patient and understand what they're going through the next two years will hopefully be a big payoff at the end.”

Construction on the Wasilla pool begins April 1, 2018. That’s when everyone will be moved to the Palmer pool, which is scheduled for its renovation in 2019.

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