By Lee Reinsch
DE PERE – From designs to demolition plans, the De Pere Board of Park Commissioners meeting was awash with discussion on the city’s two public pool projects Dec. 20.
The issue of the two new mini aquatic facilities to be constructed on the city’s east and west sides has seen more than its share of public interest.
Voters approved a referendum Nov. 6 giving the city permission to raise taxes by 7 percent and spend up to $900,000 per year for an indefinite number of years to construct the two aquatic facilities and operate them.
Residents who would like to have a say in what features the two new aquatic facilities will have two ways of doing so.
They can fill out an online survey or attend a public input session at 6 p.m. Jan. 7, in the lower level of the De Pere Community Center, 600 Grant St.
The online survey is being put into play to give those who can’t attend the in-person event a chance to make their opinions known and to keep the length of the in-person meeting reasonable.
“If you fill out an online survey, you don’t have to come to a crowded room,” said De Pere Board of Park Commissioners board member Randy Soquet at the board’s meeting.
Both options – online and in person – will give citizens the same questions to answer.
The survey and public input session are part of the public input plan for the pool projects, and the Survey Monkey survey is expected to be available through the parks department after the holidays.
Help from other areas
The board also voted to recommend that the mayor and city council approach other municipalities for collaborative funding for the two pool projects.
That’s because the pools aren’t used solely by De Pere residents, whose tax dollars will be paying for them.
According to the Department of Parks, Recreation and Forestry, users come from Lawrence, Allouez, Bellevue, Rockland, Ledgeview, Hobart, Ashwaubenon, Wrightstown and Morrison.
The board also voted to request funding from the De Pere Common Council to raze the old VFW pool facility.
It voted to accept the bid of Ostrenga Excavating, which was the lowest of two bids, with a quote of about $95,000.
The board also voted to ask its engineering firm, Graef Consulting, to draw up an additional conceptual design for the VFW aquatic facility site.
Graef had already been commissioned to come up with one drawing for the VFW site and two designs for the Legion site, for a total of $89,000.
Speaking as a citizen in the audience, Alderman Jonathon Hansen asked for at least two more designs.
“We really need to make sure to present the public with the full range of options, and adding a couple more conceptual designs would make sure the public feels engaged and that they’re being presented with all the options,” Hansen said, adding that with playground designs, they frequently have eight to 10 designs to choose from.
Alderman and park commissioner Dean Raasch disagreed.
“How many designs do we want to have, and how many months do we want to draw this out?” he asked. “By the time we get to the conceptual design stage, we’re going to have so many layers of public input into this that it’s almost misleading to suggest that it wouldn’t speak to what the public wants. We have the money available but we still have to be fiscally responsible.”