Lowell and South Pools FAQ

Lowell and South Pools

Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

1. Why are Lowell and South Pools closed?

Lowell and South Pools are the oldest of the City of Boise’s six outdoor pools and need a variety of repairs to bring them up to code. The pools closed in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Engineering, condition, code, and accessibility assessments completed that same year on both 1950s-era pools show significant deficiencies that must be addressed before the pools can safely reopen to the public.

2. How much will it cost to fix the pools?

The City of Boise Public Works Department estimated the cost to correct already identified issues independent of any structural deficiencies was approximately $2.4 million per pool (2021 estimate). This estimate does not represent the full scope of anticipated costs for either project.

An in-depth structural testing evaluation was completed in February 2022 to determine the impact of age and use on the integrity of both South and Lowell Pools. This information is being used by city staff to update cost estimates and potential future scenarios for the public pools.

At open houses held at both South and Lowell Pools in April 2022, the City of Boise and Cushing Terrell presented two potential scenarios for further study for each pool, with updated cost estimates attached to each. Click on each scenario below to view a rendering, cost estimate for that particular scenario and additional information.

SOUTH POOL
Scenario 1 – Bring the pool up to code and meet accessibility standards
Scenario 2 – Reimagine the pool on site with opportunity to preserve the historic Art Deco entrance

LOWELL POOL
Scenario 1 – Bring the pool up to code and meet accessibility standards
Scenario 2 – Reimagine the pool on site with opportunity to preserve the historic Art Deco entrance

Please keep in mind, the scenarios presented are dependent on a variety of factors and the renderings shown are not meant to represent a guaranteed outcome.

3. Are the pools going to be demolished?

The future of the pools has not been determined.

4. Does the City of Boise have budget to fix the pools?

Currently, $3.32 million is earmarked for improvements to Lowell Pool in 2024 and $3.25 million is earmarked for improvements to South Pool in 2025 according to the city’s Capital Improvement Plan (CIP).

5. How are assessments of the pools being conducted?

The City of Boise contracted with local architectural firm Cushing Terrell in November of 2020 to conduct on-site evaluations of both Lowell and South Pools. For this analysis, Aquatic Design Group of Carlsbad, California, served as a pool expert subconsultant. Using industry standards and code requirements, the consultants developed a report including an analysis of architectural, mechanical, electrical, plumbing, site and pool systems. An ADA analysis was also performed separately by Tindale Oliver, a national expert on addressing accessibility. Both reports can be viewed on the Boise Parks and Recreation website.

Engineers and architects with experience in historic structures are a part of Cushing Terrell’s project team and remain an integral part of the facility assessment process.

Additional structural assessments completed in February 2022 found both pool structures are in fair condition. There is no evidence to suggest that South Pool possess any structural deficiencies that would differ from Lowell Pool, so the structural analysis completed by Cushing Terrell and ATLAS only includes Lowell Pool at this time. Click here to read the report.

6. When could the pools reopen?

There is no estimate for reopening Lowell and South Pools at this time. The City of Boise will continue to update the public on the status of the pools and results of community engagement as the outreach process continues. Ultimately, the mayor and Boise City Council will make the final decision about the future of both pools. This decision will be based on a variety of factors including cost, equity and inclusion, historic preservation, ongoing maintenance needs and more. The pools will be closed through 2022 as next steps are determined for both facilities.

7. What is the history of the pools?

Lowell and South Pools were constructed around the year 1953. Both pools were designed by Wesley Bintz and constructed by Jordan and Sons of Boise. The pool entrances feature Art Deco/Art Moderne design elements, and each above-ground pool is accessed via a stairway from the locker room and restroom area. The facilities feature a deck, diving board, shallow end (three feet deep) and deep end (12 feet deep).

According to research, more than 100 Wesley Bintz pools were constructed across the country between the 1910s and 1960s. Lowell and South Pools are two of just over a dozen remaining. Fans of the style created a Facebook page to share stories and information

8. Are the pools listed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP)?

Residents prepared nominations for both pools to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In June 2022, the Idaho Historic Sites Review Board voted to approve both nominations, and the pools were listed in the register in September 2022. This is an honorific designation. Lowell Pool is also located in the North End Historic District. You can learn more about Boise’s historic districts on the city’s website.

9. How many pools does the city own and where are they located?

The City of Boise owns and operates six outdoor swimming pools across the city. They include Borah Pool, Fairmont Pool, Ivywild Pool, Lowell Pool, the Natatorium Pool and Hydrotube and South Pool.

The city also operates the indoor Boise City Aquatic Center located at the West Family YMCA.

Map highlighting all of the locations of City of Boise outdoor pools
Map highlighting all of the locations of City of Boise outdoor pools

10. Who owns the pools and the land around them?

The City of Boise owns the property and Lowell and South Pool facilities. The Boise School District owns the land around the two pools.

11. What do visitation numbers look like for the pools?

Visitor information tracked by Boise Parks and Recreation shows the highest visits at South Pool are among teenage pool pass holders ages 12 to 18-years-old, followed closely by swimmers 11-years-old and younger. July is typically the busiest month at South Pool, with 994 pool pass visits logged during that month in 2019, and 769 general admission (drop-in) visits logged during the same time period. Overall, 3,958 visits were logged at South Pool in 2019. The majority of South Pool pass holders live within a one-mile radius of the pool.

Visitor information tracked by Boise Parks and Recreation shows the highest visits at Lowell Pool are also among teenage pool pass holders age 17 and under (1,312 tracked visits May through August 2019). The majority of Lowell Pool pass holders live within a one-mile radius. General admission (drop-in) visits averaged around 1,000 visits for the months of June and July with just under 800 in August of 2019. Overall, 5,053 visits were logged at Lowell Pool in 2019. Like South Pool, the majority of Lowell Pool pass holders live within a one-mile radius of the pool.

In comparison to other City of Boise Pools (Borah, Fairmont, Ivywild, Natatorium & Hydrotube), South and Lowell Pools see the lowest attendance numbers. However, this is not necessarily a fair comparison because larger pools like Ivywild and the Natatorium are considered regional facilities with more amenities, capacity etc. Additional pool attendance information is available upon request.

12. Can the public weigh in on the future of the pools?

Yes, we are currently gathering community feedback on the future of Lowell and South Pools. Visit our project web page for upcoming opportunities to provide input.

13. How can I stay involved in this process?

Anyone interested in getting email updates from our project team related to Lowell and South Pools can send an email via this link: Click here to join.

14. Who will decide what happens to the pools?

The mayor and Boise City Council will have final say on what happens to these two city facilities. This includes decisions on budget and any updates or changes to the pools. A variety of other advisory groups will also weigh in on plans for both sites including the Historic Preservation Commission, the Boise Parks and Recreation Commission and potentially, the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission. Lowell and South Pools are neighborhood amenities with citywide reach. Boise leaders will take this into account when determining next steps for the pools.

If you have additional questions, please contact Boise Parks and Recreation via email.

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