Pool to make Splash!

Jasmin Vasquez, Writer

The Sooner pool will be rebuilding and adding new things to the area. Bartlesville director Micah Siemers of engineering says they will be adding a 45-foot slide complex and three shade structures will be accessible for you and your family. They are starting now and say there will also be rebuilding the parking lot. They will also be adding a frontier pool to be newly developed. They say most of the work should be done by May but the slide might take till July. This is only part of the plan they want to expand the whole road. What may you ask about the next part of the phase is to include a plunge pool, tube slide, surf machine, and a lazy river. 


I interviewed Micah Siemers and Mike Bailey to see their perspective of Bartlesville Sooner pool and Bartlesville and how they make these decisions. I asked him How long have you been in this business? His response was ¨I have been in the Engineering Department since 2009 and  I have been the Director of Engineering since 2015.¨


What made you decide to make these new changes?  This project was approved by voters as part of the 2013 Cent Sales Tax extension.  Every time you buy something in the city limits of Bartlesville a small portion of the sales tax you are charged goes into this fund.  This tax has been extended many times since the initial voter approval.  We do this in case projects cost more than we thought they would or if we don’t generate as much sales tax as we planned.  Nothing is certain and is based upon how much people spend at local businesses in Bartlesville.  The more people buy in town, the more sales tax is generated and the more projects we can complete.  The improvements at Sooner Pool were included in the 2007 extension and funding was scheduled for the last year of that extension. Every year the projects that voters approve are planned out for each year of the extension once it is approved.  The City Council then approves the capital budget each year then the projections of what it could generate that year.  Typically projects need to be shuffled around and budgets adjusted to make it all work every year. The work at Sooner Pool was a discretionary project and we did not generate as much sales tax so we had to reduce the scope of the project a bit compared to what we planned back in 2013.  But it will still be a great project.  


What made you decide to do this now?  The Sooner Pool project has been approved since 2007 as part of the 7 years 2013 CIP.  Based upon the size of the project and it’s being a discretionary project, we planned it for the last year of that funding extension.  Planning for the project started even before 2007 with the city council, city staff, and input from citizens via the Park Board.  So, this was in the works long before I even worked in the City.  This is generally how all of our projects happen.  They are planned out and approved by the citizens and sometimes take many years before funding is available.


When do you plan to add the other part of the plan that involves a tube slide, lazy river, surf machine for the pool?   The master plan includes options for a lazy river, tube slide, an enclosed slide (tunnel), possibly a surf machine, and more shade structures.  At that time it is likely we would have to upgrade the lockers, showers, and restrooms as well.  We don’t have a schedule for that work because no funding has been approved yet.  Similar to how we started this project, any future phases will have to be approved by the City Council and even before that, the citizens will have to approve them as part of a future extension or as part of another General Obligation Bond election. 

   So we have projects planned for the next 5 years.  We will put together a bunch of new projects for voters and the City Council to consider for approval.  For more work at Sooner Pool to be included, that project will need the support of the Park Board who usually come up with the initial project list with the help of city staff.  Then the City Council has to approve what projects we take to the citizens, and then ultimately the citizens have to vote to approve them.  So, if anyone wants more things at Sooner Pool like the lazy river and more slides they need to tell their City Councilor and maybe even go to a Park Board meeting and let them know also. The more people get the word out and push for it, the more likely it could happen. 

Mike Bailey, I asked him, “What made you let this expansion happen?

The expansion of the Sooner Pool was approved by voters as part of an election in 2013.  This election was an extension of a capital improvement sales tax that ran from 2014 until 2021 (it has since been renewed again to run through 2026).  The Sooner Pool expansion was identified by City Staff and the City Council as a community need before that election.  The expansion of Sooner Pool is intended to serve older kids by having amenities that are better suited to teens and younger adults.  The renovation of Frontier Pool was intended to serve younger children, so Sooner expansion will fill a community’s needs.  I’m very excited to have this project underway as I believe it will continue to make Bartlesville a better place for people of all ages to live, work, and play.

How is it being the city manager?

I love being the City Manager of Bartlesville.  It’s exciting to be part of helping to develop such an amazing community.  Bartlesville is a rare city that combines the amenities of a large community with the values of a small community.  I truly enjoy my job here, but I would not have sought to be the City Manager of any other city.

Are there more things that we could expect to improve in the future of Bartlesville?

The City Council and citizens of Bartlesville have already approved several projects that have started or will start over the next few years.  Some of the most noteworthy are improvements to the Community Center auditorium, renovations to Pathfinder Parkway, significant infrastructure upgrades to all of our parks, and improvements to many of our sports facilities.  As these projects are completed, we will again work with the community to determine what types of projects are needed to continue moving Bartlesville forward.

What are some things you like about Bartlesville?

Bartlesville is a great community for so many reasons.  I love that I can take in a live show, eat at great restaurants, enjoy a first-class green space, hang out in a world-famous skyscraper (the Price Tower), or take pathfinder from one side of town to the other.  All of these are great amenities, and I don’t know of another community where you can get all of that plus a 10-minute commute to work.  Bartlesville is the kind of city where you can raise a family, send your kids off to college, and they want to come back here to raise their own family.  I can’t think of a better place for a family to call home.