City of Boise, community members discuss future of two Boise pools

Lowell Pool
Posted at 6:34 PM, Jul 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-17 21:02:40-04

BOISE, Idaho — The City of Boise is determining options for the future of the Lowell and South pools in Boise after releasing a report Wednesday detailing modifications needed to bring the pools up to code and the price tag attached.

Both the Lowell and South pools in Boise were closed last summer because of COVID-19 and are closed this summer, leaving time for an independent firm to assess them.

“It was really sad to us to have the pools closed in 2020 because of COVID and even more sad for them to close again this year,” Laura Bainbridge, a Boise resident, said.

With the other four Boise pools open this summer, rumors spread among some community members the Lowell and South pools might be headed for demolition so they started working to preserve them.

Community members have two petitions circulating online and a Facebook group where people are sharing their memories in support of the pools.

“They’ve been around for nearly 70 years and obviously they’re beautiful architectural structures, they’re super unique,” Bainbridge said.

Boise Parks and Recreation Director Doug Holloway said there aren’t any demolition plans right now, but the city is starting the process to discuss future options for both pools. They plan to start a community outreach campaign in the fall to hear what Boise residents want for the future of these pools.

As Boise Dev first reported, the city released a report Wednesday from the independent firm's assessment that details what the city would have to do to bring the pools up to code with an estimated price tag of $2.4 million per pool.

“And that’s just to correct the code compliance issues that we have so that’s plumbing, electrical, mechanical, and ADA requirements,” Holloway said.

Both pools were designed by Wesley Bintz, an engineer who designed more than 100 above-ground pools across the country. Now, there’s less than 20 still standing, even less still operating as a pool, according to Tegan Baiocchi, who has been researching Wesley Bintz pools for more than 10 years.

Baiocchi also created the Wesley Bintz Swimming Pool Network Facebook group, where people share memories of their local Bintz pool, plan out road trips to visit ones that are still standing and work to save their local Bintz pools in danger of being torn down. People have also shared in the group what former Bintz pools have been turned into.

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From Baiocchi's research and the Wesley Bintz Swimming Pool Network Facebook group, Boise is the only city to have two Bintz pools still standing and recently in operation.

"They are special and unique. Especially the Boise pools. They have that art deco, art nouveau look to them. They're, I guess, retro for lack of a better word," she said. "If you got rid of them, you'll never have them again."

As part of the preservation effort, Bainbridge and another community member are working on a National Register Historic Places nomination for both Boise pools.

Anyone can nominate a structure, but they have to gather blueprints and other documents detailing the architecture and history of the structure and submit them first to the Idaho State Historic Preservation Office. It then goes to a state review board and finally the national register, said Dan Everhart, the outreach historian at the Idaho State Historic Preservation Office.

Bainbridge is in the beginning steps of the nominations for the two Boise pools and has been collecting photos and oral history from those who grew up with the pool.

“So many people have memories. There used to be a tree here apparently that kids used to climb and some of the branches extended over the pool so they could sneak in at night,” she said.

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Bainbridge said anyone who wants to share pictures or stories of their time at the Lowell and South Pools can post on the Save Boise Pools Facebook page or send Bainbridge a Facebook message.