It’s a tough pill to swallow, but Columbia will spend up to $550,000 to replace the Hickman High School swimming pool’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning system.

The Columbia City Council approved the project at its Monday night meeting. A memo to the council said the school district and the city’s Parks and Recreation Department found during a fall 2019 inspection that the HVAC system needed to be replaced.

The project will require Parks and Recreation to shuffle some money around. It will push back a plan to spend $200,000 on improvements to the Parks Management Center at Cosmo Park and reduce by a total of $50,000 the amount of money budgeted annually through fiscal 2022 for the city/school playground improvement program.

It also will reduce from $90,000 to $65,000 the budget for equipment and vehicle replacement in fiscal 2022.

The memo to the council said the shuffling of money is necessary because lagging park sales tax receipts have left no room for contingency projects. The school district will cover the cost up front and be reimbursed by the city over three years.

The HVAC renovation is expected to have a lifespan of 15 to 20 years, but the memo suggests the demand for swimming facilities will require that a new natatorium be built eventually to replace the 65-year-old Hickman pool, which the Hickman, Rock Bridge and Battle high school swim teams use for practices and meets.

Public comments received at a January swim summit indicated a new facility should be designed to accommodate more swimmers, including competitive and recreational swimmers and those with disabilities.

“The next step is for representatives of the CPSD, P&R, CV&B, University of Missouri, Columbia College, Stephens College, local swim teams and the Chamber to develop a working group to review all comments and tour comparable swimming facilities in the area,” the council memo says. “The goal is to develop a plan for what a future natatorium will look like; where it may be located; develop an estimated budget; identify potential capital funding sources; and determine operational costs and potential revenue.”

  • I study investigative journalism and minor in business and philosophy. I love learning about different aspects of our society and meeting new people.

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