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.
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?
Efforts will be made to preserve and maintain the pools in their current condition. This will be determined by the city’s project team including staff members from Public Works, Parks and Recreation and engineering consultants.
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 remain closed 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.