Would a public pool in Waunakee be so cool or is the idea just all wet?
Waunakee’s parks committee and public officials hoped a public meeting Aug. 20 would help to answer that question, and if the intent is there, to guide them on the size and costs.
The village board had contracted with Blake Theisen of Ayres Associates to present a number of options and price ranges to residents at the Waunakee Public Library Tuesday and ask for their preferences on four options with different price ranges, from a splash pad with a 75-person capacity to regional aquatic facility, including a seasonal dome with a 350-person capacity.
Village President Chris Zellner said the idea for a pool was spawned when village officials were working on the comprehensive plan. A community pool, splash pad and trails topped the list of what people would like to see in Waunakee.
“So I felt it was important for us to have a discussion,” Zellner said, adding that some people may not like the idea while others may find it exciting.
Village officials had limited information about any future facility, including where it could be located.
“We wanted to give you an overview… of what the options could be, what they may look like,” he said.
The 100 or so attendees received informational forms on the costs and were asked to weigh in on what they felt the target budget for any aquatic facility should be. They were also asked to provide contact information in the event they wished to help see the project through.
“We’re hoping to have a committee that’s formed for people that would be interested in being on that. There will be a fundraising component, I’m sure, with this project as it goes along, and obviously some community tax dollars will be supporting this,” Zellner said.
Theisen, an architect and planner, said he specializes in aquatic designs for open-space facilities. These types of facilities can range from splash pads to Wisconsin Dells water parks or somewhere in between.
“We really want to gauge your interest to see if this idea should move forward and what level you would like to pursue,” Theisen said.
He invited attendees to meet at four different tables after his talk to present ideas for the facility.
The splash pad presented showed a cost range between $300,000 to $500,000 and would require one acre of land. The costs presented were for construction only, not land purchases needed.
A community scale pool to accommodate 200 persons would cost between $3.5 million and $6 million. It would require 3.5 acres, cater to all ages, and would require additional parking.
A regional aquatic facility would have a capacity of 350 persons, carry a price tag of between $6 million and $10 million, and require about 7 acres. More parking would be needed for this option.
The final option, a regional aquatic facility with dome over the lap pool, would also have a 350-person capacity and require 7 acres but the cost would be between $8 million and $14 million.
The informational form also indicated the tax impact per year on $100,000 of value for a home. It ranged from $1.45 for splash pad, $12.65 for a community pool, between $21.69 to $28.91 for a regional aquatic facility, and between $36.15 to $50.62 for a regional aquatic facility with a dome.
Asked how long the tax impact would last, Sue McDade, community services director, said 15 years.
All pools would have a zero-depth entry, a bathhouse and restroom. One iteration showed what Theisen referred to as a current channel that can be used for physical therapy.
The theory behind a regional pool is to build it large enough to draw people from adjacent communities. It would have multiple vessels, or pools, Theisen said.
Fifty percent of the Waunakee area does not have a pool, he added.
“There is, in my assessment, a big opportunity,” Theisen said.
All options would be ADA compliant, with railings and lifts for those with disabilities.
“Everything we do is ADA compliant, and not only compliant but encouraged,” Theisen said.
Several questions arose. Asked if a fee would be charged, Theisen said yes, but it is not included in the costs. Usually, user fees are not enough to cover all of the operational costs.
Another question asked about the construction timeline. A pool can take between a year and half to two years to plan and build, according to Theisen. Zellner said the village board is looking at its budget, and it could be built as early as 2022 or in 2026.
Another question asked if the community were large enough to support a pool.
Theisen said Burlington, with a population of 10,000, recently built a pool.
“It’s jam-packed every day,” Theisen said. “I cannot think of an aquatics facility that isn’t doing well.”
Waunakee does have several pools operated by homeowners associations in various subdivisions. Theisen said these are not open to the community, but they would be part of the analysis for a Waunakee public pool.
The question was raised about the possibility of building a community pool, rather than a larger regional pool, with a dome, and Theisen said that option could also be entertained.
Tuesday’s meeting was just the first step in the process; the Waunakee Parks Committee will review the comments and feedback from that meeting before moving forward. Likely, any pool project would first go to referendum for a vote before proceeding.