Reconstruction of Sibley aquatic center underway

SIBLEY, Iowa -- After nearly a decade of wanting an update to their municipal swimming pool, residents of Sibley and surrounding communities will see that dream become reality throughout this summer.

Construction crews make progress on Sibley's municipal pool renovation into an outdoor aquatic center. (Alyssa Sobotka / The Globe)

SIBLEY, Iowa - After nearly a decade of wanting an update to their municipal swimming pool, residents of Sibley and surrounding communities will see that dream become reality throughout this summer.

According to Sibley Water Superintendent and pool renovation project manager Cory Dykstra, renovation of the former city pool into an outdoor aquatic center began May 15.

“It has primarily been demolition up to this point,” Dykstra said. “The first concrete pour is scheduled for 8 Tuesday morning.”

Although patrons will have to go without the outdoor pool this summer, Dykstra thinks what’s to come will be worth the wait.

While the main footprint and a capacity of 399 patrons will remain unchanged, the interior will be virtually unrecognizable.


Ranging from zero-depth to an 11 feet, 4 inch depth, the 276,690-gallon pool will boast a lily pad walkway, floating log roll, rock climbing wall, diving stand, slide, water therapy seat, designated lap lanes, a volleyball net and basketball hoop.

“There’s something for everyone to do in there,” Dykstra said.

While the additional activities will keep patrons busy throughout the summer, the biggest addition, Dykstra said, will be a zero-depth splash pad.

“We’ll have some toddler areas and toys,” he said.

The splash pad, which will operate during the summer along with the pool, has the ability to be open for an extended season, Dykstra said.

“Sometimes we have to close the pool in mid-August because a lot of our lifeguards are high schoolers or college-aged, so we just don’t have the manpower” he said. “The splash pad will be fenced off separate from the pool, and we don’t need a lifeguard on duty. It can be activated by a button.”

The approximately $2.1 million project being constructed by Branco Enterprises Inc. is anticipated to be completed in 2019. The new outdoor aquatic center, Dykstra said, should be open by Memorial Day weekend in 2019.

A related but separate project is also anticipated to soon begin, as the bathhouse will also likely experience a virtual overhaul. Dykstra said the tentative plan is to remove all but the exterior walls and one interior wall of the bathhouse.


“It’s primarily to address compliance issues,” Dykstra said of the bathhouse upgrade.

The plan, he added, is to have a family changing area in addition to the designated male and female rooms.

At present time, however, it is hard to know exactly what the final bathhouse will look like, as the city has yet to accept project bids and hire a contractor.

Dykstra said the second request for bids will be opened Wednesday. The first round of bids, he added, were rejected due to all being much higher than what the city, engineers and architects had anticipated.

Both the pool and bathhouse date back to the 1950s. They each have received updates in the early ’80s and late ’90s.

Dykstra said despite those responsible for upkeep throughout the years doing their due diligence, the renovation was long overdue, as the pool had well-exceeded its 50-year life expectancy.

“We were losing over a million gallons of unaccounted for water each year- either by leaking out of the tank or old piping,” he said. “Our biggest problem, then, is that when we bring that makeup water back into the pool, you’re bringing water back in, and to heat it and treat it, our gas bills alone were thousands of dollars a month just to try to keep the pool heated to where it needed to be.”

Dykstra is thankful for what he considers exceptionally strong community support of the pool project. A pool committee set the tone by raising more than $500,000 in an approximately 18-month time period from local families and businesses both in Sibley and the surrounding area for Osceola County’s only swimming pool.


Eligible voters continued the momentum during the November 2017 general election, approving a $1.6 million bond for reconstruction with an 85 percent approval rate.

Since then, the city has received various grants, the largest being a $250,000 Enhance Iowa grant, which is designed to boost community attractions and tourism.

Dykstra is confident the community’s financial support will experience a return investment, either economically or by attracting future professionals.

The aquatic center at Sam Robinson Memorial Park conveniently borders the Robinson Park Campground and Sibley Golf Course, Dykstra added.

“This is a nice little area for the whole family,” he said.

The Sibley municipal pool, eight days into demolition. (Special to The Globe)

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