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Paynesville Press - Feb. 5, 2003

School board tables pool request

By Michael Jacobson

Barring reconsideration by the school board, a proposed community swimming pool will not be located on school property.

A joint city-township committee is exploring options for a community pool and identified two sites on school property as the best in town for a pool. They had asked the school board to make a decision about whether they would be willing to allow school property to be used for the project by the end of January.

Before deciding not to offer its property for use last week, school board members expressed surprise that they had received so little feedback from the community on this issue.

School board members had concerns about allowing school land to be used, especially since the zoning for the new aiport would limit possible uses for the southern portion of school property at the high/middle school site and because the future route of Highway 23, still undecided, could take more land from the school, depending on its eventual route.

"I don't think we're anywhere near ready to act on this," said board chair Pat Flanders.

The pool committee had suggested two sites on school property. One is just south of the middle school parking lot in what is now the ag plots. The other is the small athletic field just to the north of the high school student parking lot. This is where the aquatic park was proposed in the 1990s, when the school board basically agreed to donate the land to the pool project.

The pool committee - which is also considering the two city well sites as possible locations - rated the school sites the highest due to their visibility, access to parking, and proximity to other recreational activities. School board member Mark Dingmann said he liked having the pool by the school because it would be so close to the school's athletic fields, but admitted that the uncertainties regarding Highway 23 and the limits of the airport zoning caused him to have mixed feelings about locating the pool on school property.

Flanders said that he had had an informal conversation with a pool committee member about putting the pool on school property along Burr Street, but the board did not have a formal proposal to consider on this.

Instead the school board took no action, which was intended to serve as a negative response. "No action is the same as no, I assume," said superintendent Howard Caldwell.

The school district was only considering whether to allow its property to be used; the school district is not participating in the project financially.

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