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Ashland picks Eugene company to design pool

The city of Ashland has chosen a Eugene-based architectural firm to design the $2.7 million replacement for Daniel Meyer Pool, and the city hopes to begin accepting bids for the project in May or June.

The Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission reviewed and rated proposals for the design services from two firms and used a point-scoring system to choose Robertson Sherwood Architects, P.C., over Ashland-based Terrain Landscape Architecture, with Ashland City Council approving the decision Feb. 18.

The design services will cost an estimated $161,130, and the approved budget for the Daniel Meyer Pool replacement project is $2,715,000, according to city documents.

Using a 100-point scale, an evaluation team of five APRC members rated both firms in five categories: project approach, project experience, project team experience, demonstrated ability to successfully complete projects on time and within budget, and termination for default. Robertson Sherwood Architects secured the contract after outscoring Terrain Landscape Architecture 476-420.

Ashland Parks and Recreation Director Michael Black said it came down to Robertson Sherwood’s impressive list of similar projects, which includes a $12.9 million pool expansion and renovation in Eugene, an $8.7 million aquatic center in Newport and a $2.7 million pool replacement in Veneta.

“The biggest thing about (Robertson Sherwood Architects) is their experience and the type of work that we’re looking to have done, specifically in the scope where we’re looking at a certain size of pool to perform a certain function,” Black said.

Another consideration, Black said, was Robertson Sherwood Architects’ experience working with the city’s preferred pool manufacturer, Myrtha Pools, whose stainless steel structures and anti-corrosive bolting represents a major upgrade for Ashland.

“(Myrtha) is an international company, and they’re basically the gold standard in swimming pools, especially competitive pools — they’re used all over the world for the Olympics and NCAA,” Black said. “They’re warrantied, they’re very high quality, you really know what you’re getting. And the price is virtually the same as another manufacturer. So when we put the (request for proposal) out for the designer, one of the things they had to do was show that they had experience and are qualified to work with Myrtha and design a Myrtha pool.”

Black and other representatives of Ashland Parks met with a team of Anderson Sherwood architects Feb. 20, first at Black’s office and later at Daniel Meyer Pool, 1705 Homes Ave., which will also be the site of its replacement. Black said they talked about conceptual ideas, energy-efficiency measures to reduce the pool’s carbon footprint and conflicts that may arise based on budget and space limits. The meeting lasted about four hours.

A concept drawing of the pool, which will be funded through the city’s food and beverage tax over a 10-year period, may be available by mid-April.

Black said the conflicts between its design expectations and what Robertson Sherwood’s architects believe is possible are minor.

“In our concept we had the deep end on this side of the pool, and they said based on pool design and other things we would move the deep end over here,” Black said. “And the (Americans with Disabilities Act) entry ramp, we showed it here and they said it makes more sense over here. And that’s why we hired these professionals. We come up with something and say, ‘Look, this is what we want, we’re not pool designers, come in and tell us what we can do.’ But virtually everything is the same as what we had done in the concept. They come in and they take what our idea is and they make it work.”

A geology report is still in the works, but barring a setback construction will begin in October. The main pool will be 25 yards by 25 meters — that’s 42 feet longer than Daniel Meyer Pool’s current dimensions (25 yards by 40 feet) — and will be adjacent to a “recreational swimming area,” a smaller pool whose size has yet to be determined which will be similar to the small, shallow pool generally used by small children at the current pool.

Ashland’s request for proposal document included 17 bullet items required in the design, among them: demolition of the existing pool, deck and spa structures; design and installation of landscaping; environmentally efficient and sustainable features; a pool deck area which “should allow for a season cover in the future;” and ADA access between the pool and the Senior Center building.

Regarding the “environmentally efficient and sustainable” directive, Black said Robertson Sherwood Architects has been asked to draw up plans that would meet that goal. Basically, he said, the city wants options.

“So it could look at a number of different things,” he said. “It could be a very high-efficiency water heating system. It could be the use of solar as much as possible to offset the need for using utilities such as gas. It could be electric. Right now, we don’t know what we can afford. The mandate is we need to be more efficient than we are now, but we’re shooting for better than that — we’re shooting for highly efficient, even for a new pool.”

Designers will come back with a list of things the new pool could include, as well as upgrades the city probably won’t be able to afford. Then, Black said, it’ll be decision time.

“There’s one option, an electrical heat pump that they’re using in Eugene now,” he said. “(Robertson Sherwood Architects) brought this up to us. But unfortunately, it’s so expensive that it’s a little bit out of reach, but they’re going to come back and say this is how much we expect it would be. They only gave us an estimate previously, but they’ll come back and say, ‘Look, if you want to do this, you add this much. If you want to do that, you add that much.’ So we’re definitely going to look at all the options. Even though we know what the budget is right now, we’re not going to stop exploring.”

A feature that will almost certainly make the final cut is a walkway to the pool from the Senior Center, which is adjacent to the property by Hunter Park. The concrete path would lead to a gated entrance, allowing seniors to meet at the Senior Center and walk directly to the pool.

The pool will be built to allow for a cover being installed at a later date, should the city eventually decide it’s necessary. Black pointed out that while Ashland Parks doesn’t operate Daniel Meyer Pool year round, it does lease it out year round to various organizations, such as the Ashland High School water polo team. Also, he added, should poor air quality during wildfire season continue to plague Ashland, a soft cover similar to the one over Ashland Rotary Centennial Ice Rink in Lithia Park, but completely enclosed, may be a viable option.

“Bend uses the exact same thing on a 50-meter pool they have outside and it works pretty good,” Black said. “And it’s reversable — you can take it off and put it back on. One of the challenges going forward will be to see if we end up with a lot of smoky years. I think there are going to be a lot of people who are like, ‘I don’t care about the convertibility of the cover, let’s just get it enclosed so we can actually go somewhere where we don’t have to be in the smoke.’

“But it’s not part of this design because of the price — we have to prioritize. I mean right now, if it’s between putting in a cover or putting in an electric heat pump that doesn’t require any gas so that we can be more environmentally efficient, then we’re going to go with the heat pump.”

Some play features, such as a climbing wall or an obstacle course, may also be included, depending on pricing.

As for the cost of using the pool, Black said that’s yet to be determined.

“I know that we will be evaluating that to see if we need to increase the prices,” he said.

Joe Zavala can be reached at 541-821-0829 or jzavala@rosebudmedia.com.

Ashland Tidings file photoKris Dean of Medford cools off at the Daniel Meyer Pool in Ashland. The city has hired an architectural firm in Eugene to design a $2.7 million replacement pool.