Diving into pool projects

By Josh Moniz

Staff Writer

NEW ULM – The indoor pool at the New Ulm Recreation Center will be closed until Monday, Sept. 23 for major renovations to address problems with the ceiling, walls and pool floor.

The first portion of the multi-project construction operation involves spraying the acoustic dampening fibers on the ceiling with sealant. The fibers have been failing over the years due to age and “wear and tear.” The sealant will prevent further deterioration and prevent moisture from the pool from reaching the fibers and will maintain its ability to muffle noise from the pool.

The second phase involves mortaring the existing slits in the wall bricks from 8 feet and up. The bricks with slits were installed many years ago to dampen noise coming from the pool.

New Ulm Park and Recreation Director Tom Schmitz said these bricks were improperly installed, so moisture from the pool can infiltrate them.This situation creates problems each winter when the moisture passes far enough to reach the outside cold, resulting in expansion from freezing and damage.

After the mortar is given a month to dry, the walls will be given several coats of primer and paint to create a sealant and prevent moisture infiltration. The current murals on the walls, which were drawn by area artist Sheldon Rieke in 2005, will be painted over. However, the Park and Recreation Department will seek an artist to paint a new mural on the walls after the project is finished.

The third project is minor grout work on the tiles of the pool floor. The work will focus only on the areas that have deteriorated.

Finally, the project will involve installing a new Sphagnum Moss water filtration system. The system operates similar to a pool filtration system, but has naturally growing moss inside it. Schmitz said the moss naturally eats particles and dirt that must be removed from pools, leaving the water pristine and clean. The moss is responsible for many of the clear lakes in the Boundary Waters area of northern Minnesota, where it naturally grows.

The new filtration system is expected to save money on chlorine and other chemicals so that it will pay back its roughly $12,000 cost in just two years.

Schmitz is very pleased with the project. It addresses long-standing problems with the pool area and has come in well under cost estimates. The combined total for the work is expected to be $175,000, compared to the amount budgeted of $200,000.

The pool was closed on Aug. 9. It is expected to take seven weeks for the projects. A tentative re-opening date is set for Sept. 23.

(Josh Moniz can be e-mailed at jmoniz@nujournal.com)

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