Moores Park Pool fundraisers say estimate exaggerates repair costs

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It certainly won’t be open by this summer. Next summer is probably too hopeful. But Lansing residents are increasingly confident that by summer 2023, the leaking and shuttered Moores Park Pool in southwest Lansing will be repaired, reconstructed and reopened to the public. 

And those leading the charge on fundraising efforts think the renovations can be completed for far less than the $4.8 million estimate identified in an assessment report from the city in March.

“This assessment really shows things that need to get done, things that maybe should be done and more of a wishlist of things that could be done,” explained Paul Kolar, an organizer with Friends of Moores Park Pool, which formed after the pool was shut down in 2019. “We’re thinking we may be able to get this completed at a much more reasonable $2 or $2.5 million.”

Over the last several months, contractors hired by the city to assess the damage at Moores Park Pool estimated the costs to bring the historic structure back to life. The Friends group paid for half of the $60,000 assessment — a token of its commitment to the project. 

In addition to outlining a list of myriad repairs required to bring the pool up to snuff, the report outlined two options (with distinctly different price tags) on how to get the job. One route suggested a minimum of $4.8 million in renovations. Another suggested at least $6.3 million.

But Kolar and others with Friends of Moores Park think the fixes won’t be nearly that expensive. Discussions are still underway, but the latest estimates are now below $3 million, officials said.

“We’re still talking about millions of dollars. There are things that need some clear attention. There are also some organizations that have offered to donate their time and muscle to keep costs down,” said Mary McGuire, a member of the executive team for the Friends group. “Millions of dollars sounds like a ton of money, but I do think we’re looking at a reachable goal. It’s a significant amount, but we’re also not counting on the community to raise every penny.”

A city spokeswoman said the administration was still working this week to “determine next steps” and noted that grant funding may also be available, as well as at least $250,000 from the $2.2 million sale of the former Waverly Golf Course property from the city to developers in 2018. 

The City Council passed the annual budget this month without any specific funding for repairs. It will likely be more than a year before any renovation projects actually begin at Moores Park. 

Added McGuire: “I don’t think we could get all the funds raised to launch next year. Especially when considering the sheer number of grants we need to apply for, as they are cyclical.”

The initial $4.8 million estimate focused on maintaining the historic architecture of the pool, including a pool wall design that would be expected to last for the next 20 years. Because the repairs are sympathetic to preserving the historic nature of the facility, it’s also the plan preferred by the State Historic Preservation Office and the U.S. National Park Service, officials explained.

That option also listed about $2.7 million in repairs as “immediate priority” and about $1.8 million as “necessary priority.” Kolar said the repairs in the “necessary” category may be unnecessary.

“I don’t think this has to be the city alone. We’ll need a lot of hands to make this possible,” Kolar said. “Grants will help. We’re also talking about local businesses or larger state businesses getting involved. I don’t think we’ve ruled out something like Dow Chemical, Meijer or the Lansing Board of Water & Light from jumping in and maybe making some larger contributions.”

When the assessment was released, Schor said the repair bill would compete alongside “many financial demands for necessary services across the city” — like road and sidewalk repairs. He remained open, however, to working with private donors and applying for grant opportunities.

City officials closed the Moores Park Pool in fall 2019 and announced that it would need at least $1.2 million in repairs before it could safely reopen to the public. Leaks were also ratcheting up weekly maintenance and refilling costs to about $1,400 while chlorinated water spilled into the soil below. Before the pool closed, it was open for seven days a week, 10 weeks out of the year.

Visit mhpn.org/mpp to learn more about the Moores Park Pool and future fundraising efforts. 

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