Syracuse community comes together on pool project

Wendy Werner

A building in disrepair that was receiving red marks on state inspections sparked the need for a new bathhouse at the Syracuse Aqua center.  By many accounts, the Syracuse Aqua Center bathhouse was in poor shape with holes in the structure giving wildlife a means of getting in coupled with the fact that the bathhouse did not serve individuals with disabilities, the need to build a new bathhouse was critical and became the focus of many community members.

Then Pool Manager Jamy Prokopec and founder of the Build a Bathhouse Committee approached the city council in the fall of 2018.  Mayor at the time KC Ortiz and the council advised a committee be formed, plans be drawn and an estimate on the cost. 

A six-person committee made up of Julie Beach, Katy Biehl, Jo Weiler, Jen Foley, Becki Neemann and Carolyn Gigstad was formed.  A grant from the Nebraska Department of Economic Development Civic and Community Center Financing Fund in the amount of $7,500 was received with the city providing an equal match.  The grant allowed the committee to meet with JEO to discuss plans and cost.

The total project cost was $875,000.  Funds were raised from grants, donations and fundraisers.  Grants in the amount of $386,000 were also received from the Nebraska Game and Parks Land and Water Conservation Fund and an anonymous donor.  Donations were received from local entities including the Syracuse Foundation, the Syracuse Library Foundation, Syracuse and Otoe County Keno, and the Luther Memorial Building Fund.  Fundraising started with a campaign soliciting donations and included a volleyball tournament, the Back to School Bash, a 5K run and the Grand Finale, a pulled pork to-go dinner along with an online auction.  There were numerous donations from individuals.  The committee raised $239,899.56

City Parks and Rec Manager Jill Crook said, “The new bathhouse is an asset to our community and our patrons. The new amenities are awesome.  I want to thank the elected officials, committee and city staff for their work in making the new bathhouse a reality.  The effort is a great example of public private partnerships and shows what happens when a community comes together.”

Demolition of the old bathhouse was done in February of 2021 with construction starting on the new bathhouse in March 2021.  The completion of the bathhouse was celebrated with a ribbon cutting on Monday, June 28, 2021 and the pool officially opening for the 2021 season.  At the ribbon cutting, many efforts were recognized including Scheele-Kayton Construction and Project Manager Thomas Neemann for their willingness to work nights and weekends to get the bathhouse completed.  The new bathhouse boasts two accessible restrooms, semi-private shower, larger guard area and multiple concession stand windows.  Updates made to the pool but not included in the bathhouse financing were the pool and pool fixtures repainted and the addition of new lounge chairs.

Crook concluded, “If you haven’t been to the pool in a while, come check it out.”

The community of Syracuse celebrated the opening of the bathhouse at the Syracuse Aquatic Center with a recent ribbon cutting.
Pictured is the newly completed bathhouse at the Syracuse Aquatic Center.