Sibley Outdoor Aquatic Center

Lifeguards Leah Ackerman, Megan Grimes, Madison Brouwer and Nichole Lowe work with participants during summer swimming lessons at the Sibley Outdoor Aquatic Center.

SIBLEY—The updated Sibley Outdoor Aquatic Center is making a splash.

The aquatic center won a 2020 All-Star Community Award from the Iowa League of Cities for communities with a population below 3,000.

To win, judges looked at how much of an impact a project has its community, what it brings to the community, how long it has been around, as well as originality, how it manages money and how the local government has used the project to bring people together in its community.

Entries are divided into three population categories: less than 3,000, 3,000-9,999 and more than 10,000.

Other 2020 winners were the city of Harlan, population of 4,950, for its Plaza Development and Marion, population of 39,400, for its Prospect Meadows Sports Complex.

“It’s an honor to have been chosen for the All Star Community award,” said Sibley city clerk Susan Sembach. “Having the aquatic center gives our youth a place to enjoy during the summer months. It’s a place families can spend time together and a facility that can be used for wellness for our residents. We, as residents of Sibley, are very fortunate to have the pool.”

The attendance numbers for the facility this summer were consistent with last year’s numbers.

“There was an average of 175 patrons per day, which was very comparable to past years, after we were able to open,” Sembach said.

The coronavirus pandemic did factor into what the aquatic center could do early on in the season.

“The pool and splash pad had to remain closed as per the governor’s orders at the beginning of the season,” Sembach said. “Once we were allowed to reopen, the facility and programs have been very well attended. We’ve followed guidelines established by the IDPH as far as sanitizing surfaces to try to keep staff and patrons healthy.”

The aquatic center cost about $2.8 million to produce. Planning for raising funds for a new aquatic center began in 2014, with the renovations starting in 2017, which brought a new splash pad, zero-depth entry, a water walk, water slides, a diving board, a log roll, a therapy seat and other amenities.

The decision to go through with making the necessary improvements to it did go through quite the process with local government and got the community involved.

“Prior to making any decisions, we held three public meetings that involved residents, staff, city council, engineers, architects and bonding council,” she said. “The bond then went to vote and passed with an 84 percent approval, so making that decision was easy based on those results and the input from the residents.”

The project started out with the idea of making a whole new aquatic center for the city of Sibley, but eventually morphed into renovating and updating the city pool and making it the Sibley Outdoor Aquatic Center.

The renovated aquatic center held its grand opening in June 2019.

Sibley has had a pool in it since 1951, and Sembach said the aquatic center has a great reputation in the community.

“Our residents see the pool as staple that adds to the quality of life in Sibley,” she said. “This is an amenity that bring families in from near and far. Residents’ feelings toward the pool are very positive. By passing the bond with 84 percent of the voters in favor goes to show how much our residents value the facility.”

Sibley water superintendent Cory Dykstra said there will be more updates to the aquatic center next year.

“Before we open next summer we will have the pool’s treatment and filtration connected to the city’s existing supervisory control and data acquisition system,” he said. “This will allow city personnel to monitor water chemistry and other critical information much closer and log in remotely to make corrections if needed. This system will also alarm and call city personnel when certain parameters aren’t met.”