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De Pere pool plans navigate rocky waters

By Lee Reinsch

DE PERE – With a few nips and tucks still to be done, plans for the two new aquatic facilities in De Pere are coming together.

The most recent De Pere Board of Park Commissioners meeting on April 18 drew residents anticipating plenty of aquatic facility discussion, and the meeting did not disappoint.

Of the three-and-a-quarter-hour meeting, a solid three hours were devoted to the pools.

At issue were differences between the designs residents saw at a March open house, and those released by the city April 12.

This design for Legion Pool on the east side of De Pere, released by GRAEF, drew lots of concerns at a De Pere parks board meeting April 18. Submitted Illustration

The group Save De Pere Pools issued a statement saying before the meeting that the altered designs for the pool at Legion Park released after the open house were “undesirable and unusable for small children, inexperienced swimmers, families with varying ages and multiple swimming abilities.”

Those plans showed Legion Park as smaller and with fewer activities for older kids than plans for VFW.

Director of Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Marty Kosobucki calmed troubled waters over a misunderstanding about available funds and that a costlier VFW facility plan left insufficient funding even to simply replicate the current Legion Park pool facility.

“At the last park board meeting, one question was about the referendum and the budget for the pool, and that caused a little confusion,” Kosobucki said.

He said a stated dollar figure of $12 million for the two pools was simply a number that the city administrator came up with for what the referendum could cover.

“It was not intended to give a benchmark,” Kosobucki said. “There’s no budget and no set amount.”

Last November, De Pere voters passed a referendum that raises property taxes about 7 percent, garnering approximately $900,000 per year for an indefinite number of years, to build and operate two new pool facilities to replace those at VFW and Legion parks.

Representatives from GRAEF took questions and feedback, and the board discussed what might be subtracted or postponed to reduce costs, and whether some features could be put in later once sponsors come to the fore.

The GRAEF representatives said amenities such as climbing walls are fairly easy to retrofit, as are diving boards, as long as the concrete slab is prepared with that in mind.

Alderman Ryan Jennings motioned the VFW plans do not include the half-meter diving board, but leave space for a future installation, bringing the number of diving boards at VFW down to two: a one-meter and a three-meter board.

“The third diving board adds a whole extra staff person and would be easy to add later,” Jennings said.
But one alderman urged the commissioners not to sacrifice today only to pay tomorrow.

“The cost goes up in the future, so we should do it the way we want it today,” said Alderman Dean Raasch.

Among the changes:

• Extending Legion’s design west several feet to add more room to the toddler pool.

• Adding a half-meter diving board at Legion.

• Adding a sidewalk around the Legion facility.

• Removing the half-meter diving board at VFW.

• Adding a spot for a veterans memorial at the entrance to the VFW pool facility.

Kosobucki said the board made recommendations, but gave GRAEF some leeway to “think outside the box to accomplish what they (the community) were hoping for.”

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