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Paynesville Press - November 27, 2002

Possible features, layouts being identified for pool

By Bonnie Jo Hanson

Visions of a community aquatic park are coming into focus, now that the ad-hoc aquatic park committee has identified their needs and wants for a community pool and has started looking at possible layouts.

The committee identified a list of needs and wants for the pool at their meeting in October and started looking at layouts with a consultant from USAquatics at their meeting last week.

Their vision of a community pool includes four different pool areas: a splash pool, a plunge pool, a lap pool, and a diving area.

The splash pool, with play features such as bubblers and water sprays, should attract adults with small children. Giving this pool a zero-depth entry could make it attractive to people of all ages.

Various water slides and other activities are the crux of an aquatic park, and the committee identified the need for several different slides and a plunge pool where slide users will fall into the water. The plunge pool could also serve as a shallow water area for swim lessons.

A lap pool and a diving area are necessary for swim lessons as well as for fitness swimming. When the lap pool isn't in use by swimmers, its shallow water will make a good place for kids to play. One feature of the layout is that the splash pool will likely be separate, since its water needs to be warmer, while the plunge area, lap pool, and diving area could be connected.

In order to keep kids and families at the aquatic park for lengths of time, committee members agreed that activities out of the water are also important. A sand volleyball court, a basketball court, a playground, grass areas, and even a skateboard park could go a long way in keeping visitors entertained while not in the water.

Another key factor in the layout is the location of the spectator areas. These areas, the committee agreed, should feature sunny and shady areas, should be located near the concession stand, and still afford parents easy access to their kids, including views of the different pool areas.

The consultants from USAquatics will use the committee's input to make a tentative plan for the facility. This proposal could be presented to the public at a meeting, hopefully in February. Following that, the public will also be surveyed.

Once a tentative plan is made, the committee can also establish a budget. City administrator Steve Helget estimates thatt the current features would cost around $1.2 million without a parking lot. The consultant has warned that the price could change substantially, especially if a parking lot needs to be built.

The committee has identified four sites that could meet the criteria for an aquatic facility: the crop plot south of the Paynesville Area Middle School, the lot between the north Paynesville Area High School parking lot and the armory, the city well site near Highway 55 in the Chladek Addition, and the city well site on the east end of town.

The committee favors the school sites, primarily because they already have parking lots that could be shared and also because they are surrounded by the other recreational activities on the school grounds. The southern portion of the school property, though, faces zoning restrictions for the new airport, a point of contention between city, school, and township officials in the past. City engineers have examined the site south of the middle school parking lot and identified 5.8 acres available for construction before the zoning restrictions take effect.

The committee's next step is to approach the school board about the possibility of using any school land for an aquatic park. Committee members plan to attend the next school board meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 3, at 8 p.m.

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