Why Not Just Cover Memorial Pool?

During the community interviews that took place in mid‐2016, business leaders and community residents frequently raised the question, “Why not just cover Memorial Pool?” In response, HRSA has explored the feasibility and cost of covering Memorial Pool and providing some of the same amenities included in the lowest‐cost option currently under consideration for a new sports & recreation facility. A summary of this comparison is shown below.

New Facility: Low-Cost OptionCover Memorial Pool Option
GymnasiumsTwo High School
2 @ 84x50 feet
Four High School
4 @ 84x50 feet
Competition Swimming Pool8-lane, 25 yard
(no meters course)
Starting blocks, cool water temperature
25 yard x 50 meter
(20 lanes x 25 yards)
Starting blocks, cool water temperature
Community Activity Pool2,500 sq. ft.
Beach-style entry, warm water temperature
Building Area47,000 sq. ft.68,000 sq. ft.
Capital Cost$20 Million$15 Million

Although the “Cover Memorial” option provides an approximately $5 Million savings in capital construction costs over the lowest new facility option, covering Memorial Pool would not meet the current sports & recreation needs of the Helena region. In addition, the operating costs for both utilities and staffing would be higher with the “Cover Memorial” option.

Covering Memorial Pool also represents a loss of existing amenities because Helena would no longer have an outdoor pool.

Functional, Operational & Community Priorities Would Not Be Met

  • Short course (25‐yard) competitive swim meets cannot be hosted in Memorial Pool due to shallow water depths. Hosting High School swim meets is therefore not feasible.
  • The single large water tank does not provide a warm water family pool, which is needed for financial vitality and learn‐to-swim programs.
  • Site constraints require two disconnected buildings, the gym and natatorium. This increases operational costs over the life of the facility.
  • Memorial Pool has a deep diving well, and that increased volume of water increases utility costs.
  • Covering Memorial Pool removes the community’s only outdoor swimming pool and largest outdoor ice rink.
  • There is no space at the site for future amenities such as a field house, family pool, or indoor track.

Covering Memorial Pool fails to provide important amenities and spaces, costs more to maintain and operate and will require Helena to give up existing amenities. It is a “penny‐wise, pound‐foolish” proposal.

A full, printable analysis of covering Memorial Pool is available.