Park commission looks to speed up pools process
By Lee Reinsch
DE PERE – Work on the city’s two future aquatic facilities needs to start, and it needs to start soon. That’s the message reiterated among the City of De Pere Board of Park Commissioners.
It’s crucial not only to make voters happy but to avoid rising costs of construction.
“For each year a project is delayed, construction costs go up 10 to 20 percent,” said Alderman Dean Raasch.
On Nov. 6, De Pere voters passed a referendum to transform the two existing city swimming pools, at VFW Park and Legion Park, into two separate aquatic facilities.
With the VFW pool slated to be closed next year due to structural damage, that leaves one pool to serve the city next year and likely the following year.
“Right now the chances of us getting the VFW pool up and running by 2020 are extremely slim, and every month we delay it gets more between slim and none,” said Marty Kosobucki, director of parks, recreation and forestry for the City of De Pere.
Initially, plans called for the permanent closing of the Legion Park pool, and an aquatic center to be built on the west side of town.
Those plans changed to two aquatic facilities, one on each side of the river, after the public expressed displeasure at the idea of one pool for the whole city and also concern about getting their kids to the other side of town for swimming lessons.
Most of the design initially created months ago for the single aquatic center will probably have to be tossed out or at least modified to accommodate for two less-fancy facilities.
“We need to scale back what we wanted to do at VFW if we’re looking at doing something comparable at Legion,” Raasch said. “If we’re able to start the process of tearing down VFW next year, even while we’re working on other plans, we’ve still got to create a new footprint because that (initial) one’s not going to work.”
However, using the research, data and cost numbers from the original plan as a guide might help move things along, he said.
Still to be decided is whether the east side and west side pools will be basically the same, with the same types of features, or vastly different from each other, and what that will look like, Kosobucki said.
Then that needs to be forwarded to the Common Council for permission to move ahead another step.
“Do you want an aquatic center at VFW, and a neighborhood pool at Legion? Do you want two identical pools so there’s no ‘Why did they get this and got that?’ Or do you want purposely two different pools, so there are different amenities on each side of the river so that we have different flavors at our pool facilities?” such as swimming and diving at one and more kid-focused activities at the other, Kosobucki said.
Plans have been put into place to accommodate swim lessons for kids from both sides of town at the Legion Park pool next summer when VFW remains closed due to structural damage, he said.
The city is looking into solutions to the problem of transportation for kids from the west side to the east side, but the city probably won’t provide its own transportation, Kosobucki said.