Area News | Home | Marketplace | Community

Return to Archived Stories

Paynesville Press - December 11, 2002

Pool committee approaches school

By Michael Jacobson

The ad-hoc community pool committee approached the school board last week to determine if the school district has any interest in allowing an aquatic park to be built on its property.

City administrator Steve Helget and committee co-chairman Kyle Nehowig asked the school board last week if the school board was interested at all in allowing a pool to be built on its property. "The #1 site that we found in town was the ag plot by the middle school," Nehowig told the school board last week.

The pool committee has identified four publicly-owned sites as possibilities for a community pool. In addition to the ag plot, just south of the middle school parking lot, the other potential sites are: the school athletic field between the north high school parking lot and the armory (which was identified and agreed to be the site for the aquatic park project in the 1990s), the city well site near the Chladek Addition and the new Project 55 (just south of Highway 55), and the city well site on the east end of town (just off Highway 23 near the Morningside Development).

Map of pool sites - illustration by Michael Jacobson The sites were judged on size (a minimum of three to five acres is needed), cost of developing (including utilities), location and accessibility, and visibility. The school sites could possibly share a parking lot with the school (since the outdoor pool would be busiest when school is not in session), would be near the school's baseball and softball fields and its tennis courts, have ample parking, and would be visible from Highway 23.

This 5.8-acre site #1 - on school property just south of the middle school parking lot (including the north half of the ag plot) - is the top choice of the pool committee for an aquatic park. Members of the pool committee approached the school district last week to see if the school board has any interest in allowing this property to be used for a pool.

"I guess what our consultants have been telling us from the first day we've talked to them is you need things not only to bring people there but to keep them there," said Helget. "That's why we're looking at that area," he added. "They all complement each other."

The north athletic field, between the high school parking lot and the armory, would be close to the school fields and be visible from Highway 23, but it is smaller, only three acres or so in size. Also, it is used frequently by high school physical education classes, noted Nehowig, who is also the school district's athletics coordinator.

The preferred site - south of the middle school parking lot, including the north half of the ag plot - is larger and would also be visible from the golf course.

When a new airstrip is completed, though, roughly half the current ag plot will be subject to strict zoning regulations that, for safety reasons, limit the number of people that can congregate and the height of structures. The city had engineers study the airport zoning and the pool committee's preferred site, and they identified 5.8 acres where an aquatic park could be built without restrictions. "We know we could fit the facility in there," Helget told the board last week.

School board member Mark Dingmann suggested that the pool could be designed to put some things - a volleyball court, basketball court, and skateboard park - in the restricted zoning, while the actual aquatic park would need to be built outside the zone. That would help the school district use the land that is restricted by the airport zoning, and leave more unrestricted land for the school.

Rather than putting the pool facility all along the middle school parking lot, the school needs to leave room to expand that parking lot, in case it ever wants to build an elementary school that connects with the middle school, said Dingmann. Nehowig agreed that the school and the pool needs to use the restricted land for whatever is legal to have there.

High school principal John Janotta also noted that Highway 23 may change. If the route stays by the school, the school's accesses to Highway 23 would most likely be closed, he said, which would mean the school district might have to build an access from Burr Street to the middle school parking lot.

Janotta also asked about the possibility of replacing the ag plots. The city does have ag land by the city sewer ponds and around the new airport that could be used for a trade.

The pool committee needs to know if the school district is interested in allowing their property to be used for a pool by the end of January, Helget and Nehowig told the school board.

Contact the author at   •   Return to News Menu

Home | Marketplace | Community