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Paynesville Press - January 1, 2003

Top 12 Stories of 2002: Pool study restarted

By Michael Jacobson

A community swimming pool - a long-time dream, but never a reality - was revived in 2002. An ad hoc group organized a public meeting in May 2002 and got the idea rolling again.

In June 2002, the city and township agreed to split the roughly $6,000 cost for a feasibility study and to appoint a joint committee of city and township residents to pursue the project.

That committee started meeting this fall and identified possible sites and possible features for a pool. An outdoor aquatic park - with other activities like sand volleyball, basketball, playground, even a skateboard park - was deemed the most feasible, due to the cost of building and operating an indoor facility and the need to keep swimmers at the pool as long as possible.

The top two sites are on property belonging to the school district: the ag plot to the south of the middle school parking lot and the athletic field between the high school student parking lot and the armory. In December 2002, the pool committee approached the school board to see if the school had any interest in allowing their property to be used, and the school board is expected to make a decision by the end of January.

Financing for the pool project has not been determined, but a vote is likely if city or township funds need to be used.

Highway 23 still undecided The future route of Highway 23, through or around the city of Paynesville, continued to be studied in 2002, but no decisions were reached, as the study lagged behind schedule. A draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was due in the fall of 2002, but was not finished. Its completion and a public hearing for input on the EIS should be done in 2003.

What was decided were five potential options for Highway 23: making no improvements and keeping the existing route; making improvements along the existing route; bypassing town to the south and east; staying on roughly the same route on the west side of town until the river and then heading north of town (west bypass); and leaving the current highway along the Kandiyohi County line and bypassing west and north of Paynesville (far west bypass).

These routes have stayed roughly the same throughout the study, with the only addition being a couple options on the west bypass. Instead of following the current route of Highway 23 past the golf course, one option is to follow the old route through the farm fields to the north. Another option is moving the highway to the west as it passes the high school (behind the businesses across the road) and crossing the Crow River further west than the current bridge.

(Editor's Note: the Press has identified these 12 stories as the top news in the Paynesville area for 2002. For the top accomplishments in sports, see the 2002 sports review.)

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