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Paynesville Press - July 23, 2003

Feasibility study completed for pool

By Michael Jacobson

A feasibility study for a community pool for Paynesville recommends an outdoor aquatic park.

The study - costing nearly $6,000, paid by the city of Paynesville and Paynesville Township - was started a year ago and was completed in May 2003. A committee of city and township residents worked with the consulting firm of USAquatics to produce the feasibility study. It was presented to the township board on Monday, July 14.

Proposed is a two-pool, outdoor aquatic park. The splash pool would feature zero-depth entry (like a lake) and a maximum depth of 3.5 feet. The lap pool (75' by 42') would have six competitive lanes, would be suitable for swimming lessons and water aerobics (3.5 feet deep on the shallow end), and would have a diving board and drop slide at the deep end (10.5 feet). A plunge pool (roughly 24' by 24') would be attached to the shallow end of the lap pool.

Pool sketch The aquatic park would also have a bathhouse with lockerrooms and concessions, sunbathing decks, a sandlot, picnic areas, shady spots, and grassy areas. One goal is to create a facility that would keep patrons for longer periods of time, helping concession sales cover much of the operating costs.

The aquatic park could house 371 people in the pools at one time.

Construction costs of the proposed facility is $1,381,600, with $150,200 in alternate features. Another $156,000 would be covered by donations or work by the city.

Operating costs for a 90-day summer season are estimated in the study at $66,250. By charging admission of $1.50 per day and expecting to get $1 per person in concessions, the facility would earn $64,125 in revenue ($38,745 in admission and $25,650 in concessions) if it averages 285 people per day.

The pool committee opted for an outdoor aquatic park based on costs. An indoor facility would have higher building costs and higher operating costs. According to USAquatics, Paynesville is not large enough to support an indoor pool without either large donations or a partnership with the school district. Indoor pools require $36 per foot in operating costs, meaning the proposed facility would cost approximately $490,000 annually to maintain as an indoor facility, according to the feasibility study.

A basic pool would cost less to build but might not have the usership and concession sales to cover the operating costs.

"I think it would be very beneficial to our community," township resident Brad Skoglund, a co-chair of the pool committee, told the township board last week. "I think it would be a great plus for Paynesville."

Skoglund and six other pool committee members - township residents Greg Hansen, Lonnie Lien, Laurie Malling, and Urban Fuchs, and city residents Mary Janotta and Cliff Rossler - attended the township meeting last week. Also serving on the pool committee were Ron Mergen and Kyle Nehowig from the city along with township clerk Don Wiese and city administrator Steve Helget as nonvoting members.

Still undecided about the pool project is the site. The pool committee continues to recommend the practice fields between the high school parking lot and the armory.

The pool committee did approach the school board last winter about allowing this school property to be used for the project, but the board, while expressing some interest, did not approve the use of any school land, citing its own land needs and concerns for loss of land use due to the zoning for the new airport and the possible use of school property by the future route of Highway 23.

The pool committee plans to approach the school board again about the possibility of using school property as a site for the aquatic park.

The township board expressed personal support for the project, but both the city and the township would have levy referendums to fund the project. The pool committee still plans to survey the city and township - prior to a vote - and to hold a public meeting.

The feasibility study will be presented to the city council tonight at their meeting at 6 p.m. at city hall. On Thursday, July 24, the pool committee is organizing a trip to an aquatic park in Glencoe - one of four facilities visited by the committee - so members of the public can see an aquatic park.

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