Rose Park Fire

A fire damaged the pool house in Rose Park in March 2016.

Gazette Staff

By a 6-5 vote Monday, the Billings City Council approved about $1.76 million to demolish the arson-damaged Rose Park bathhouse and construct a new facility ready for the 2018 swimming season.

Joining Mayor Tom Hanel on the prevailing side were council members Al Swanson, Mike Yakawich, Brent Cromley, Angela Cimmino and Rich McFadden.

Opposing the demolition and construction award to Swank Enterprises were Shaun Brown, Dick Clark, Ryan Sullivan, Chris Friedel and Larry Brewster.

Joel Anderson of CTA Architects Engineers said his firm and parks officials value engineered $146,000 from the originally proposed project, which came about after a March 2016 arson fire at Billings’ most heavily used public pool.

But some council members, noting that the project’s original estimate was $1.35 million, said they wanted the price tag to be closer to that amount than what the council approved Monday.

Anderson said the current Rose Park bathhouse, constructed in 1962, doesn’t comply with Americans with Disabilities Act because of its narrow hallways, has a snack shack that can reach 105 degrees and has sight lines that don’t allow the pool manager to view the slides, pool and front gate simultaneously.

The new building will have a first aid room and classroom space that can be used year-round.

“We aimed for resiliency,” Anderson said. “We did our best to provide our client with a long-lasting, well-designed facility that I believe the city will be proud of.”

“This is a tremendous amount of money for a seasonal facility, but the last one lasted 55 years,” Hanel said. “If we calculate (the construction cost) out over 50 years or more, it’s not bad, and it’s our number one resource during the summer.”

The new building is designed for up to 50,000 visitors each summer. Currently, up to 40,000 swimmers take the plunge each year at the Rose Park pool, at 21st Street West and Avenue C.

Anderson said the new facility will have nearly 3,900 square feet on the interior and about 5,300 square feet in covered outdoor space. The average construction cost per square foot is about $194, or about $25 per square foot in current dollars less than what it cost to construct additions to Broadwater and McKinley Elementary schools, which Anderson’s firm also designed.

“These are quality materials” that will be used during construction, he said. “I don’t want to see it torn down in my lifetime.”

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City Government Reporter

City reporter for The Billings Gazette.