November 01, 2012Members of the swim community interested in saving the Grimsley pool met with the Greensboro Parks and Recreation Department staff Friday, Oct. 26 to discuss alternatives to demolishing the structure, which the city has allowed to fall into disrepair despite a joint use agreement with Guilford County Schools that stipulates the city will maintain the pool.
President of the Greensboro Swimming Association Don Gilchrist, who has helped spearhead the community effort, presented ideas for saving the pool for under $1 million.
President of the Community Swim Association Joe Brower and Grimsley High School Swim Coach Angelo Kontoulas also participated in the discussion.
Gilchrist said he thinks the Greensboro City Council has yet to thoroughly explore the possibilities for the pool and that the city-sponsored analysis of the structure by Sutton-Kennerly & Associates didn't consider all of the options.
"There are ways that are creative to be able to solve this," Gilchrist said.
The position of Sutton-Kennerly, which they presented to City Council, is that the entire structure of the pool and surrounding building is compromised by ongoing subsidence, or sinking, due to poor quality soil under the foundation.
This conclusion is largely based on speculation, as the soil under the pool has not been examined directly, except on one corner of the structure where Sutton-Kennerly inserted "footing/mini-piles" in 2000 to address foundation settlement.
Sutton-Kennerly estimates that to repair the existing structure and pool would cost almost $5 million. The estimate for demolishing the building and grading the lot is $375,000.
Ted Szostak, a diving coach and former architect, presented his analysis, which is in sharp contrast to the Sutton-Kennerly speculation.
"To me it looks like a wind-load issue. There's no proof that I can see of subsidence," Szostak said. He went on to say that the issues on the corner of the building, which Sutton-Kennerly had attributed to continuing subsidence, looked to him like evidence of a compaction problem at the time of construction.
Brad Ehrhardt, president of Sutton-Kennerly, disputed that position, saying that large cracks in the walls of the building can be explained by subsidence at one end of the building.
Szostak said that subsidence cannot necessarily be concluded from the cracks, and that the horizontal motion of the cracks indicated wind-load damage.
Ehrhardt said that the horizontal motion could be explained by the fact that the roof had been partially detached by a storm in 2011. The partial removal of the roof also revealed extensive corrosion damage to the interior support of the building.
Gilchrist presented the three alternatives with quotes from contractors.
One alternative involves reinforcing the walls of the building using "shotcrete," a kind of concrete applied to walls through a hose, sprayed over a metal frame. The new walls then take over the load bearing work of the damaged walls. The estimated cost is $800,000.
However, Szostak and Ehrhardt both agreed that shotcrete would add a lot of mass to the building, and that bringing such a heavy structure up to code would require additional expense and cause further complications.
Another alternative would be to demolish three walls and the roof of the existing building, and construct a "membrane" structure in its place out of fabric stretched over a steel frame at a cost of $300,000 to $400,000, plus $375,000 for removing the three walls and the roof.
Ehrhardt said he was familiar with the membrane approached, but he questioned the value of the investment since the estimated life of a membrane, 10 to 15 years, is less than that of a brick and mortar building.
Gilchrest pointed out that although the membrane would need periodic replacement, the steel frame would be more permanent.
Questions were also raised about how well the membrane would retain heat, and how much it would cost to heat the building.
The third alternative is to demolish three walls and the roof and replace them with an insulated metal building for about $715,000.
Ehrhardt agreed that would work, provided that it is adequately protected. "Pools are very harsh environments," he said, referring to the high temperatures and humidity of pool interiors.