I got the feeling I was sinking on the deep end of a pool as I was reading the recap of the DeForest Pool Advisory meeting held Sept. 23. The story was in last week’s DeForest Times-Tribune.
This all started back last summer when the village’s Director of Public Services, Kelli Bialkowski, reported to the village board that she had received several requests from people attending events at Firemen’s Park that DeForest really needed an outdoor swimming pool.
A week or two later, a large contingent of citizens showed up at a board meeting putting forth their pitch for a new outdoor pool. As I remember the report of village board meetings, the board did discuss a new outdoor pool and commented that it would cost a lot of money, but they would pay for a study to find out the cost.
Well, the study was done and a pool advisory committee was formed to look further into the matter. I wasn’t terribly concerned. I find my tax bill to be way too large to even think about a new outdoor pool in DeForest. After all, we have a new pool at the high school and a splash pad at Conservancy Commons Park. Plus, a new splash pad will be going into Firemen’s Park this coming summer.
Our taxes are really high, paying for the big school district building project plus the village is spending lots of money just keeping up with the growth of the area. Just this past year they spent a ton of money building the new Athletic Complex out at Conservancy Place. Certainly once the board saw what a new pool would cost, that would be the end of it . . . Now I’m not so sure the board is going to drop the idea.
The feasibility study was done by Iconica. It included aerial photos of a number of area municipal pools including Middleton, Sun Prairie, Columbus, Watertown, Burlington, Hartford, Appleton, LaCrosse,and Elkhorn. All are larger towns than DeForest, except for Columbus and maybe Elkhorn. The cost for building the pool and equipping it would be between $5.1 million and $6.7 million and these costs are subject to change (most likely up). And that would be the cost if DeForest would build the pool on land they already own.
The only location on village land is the eastern ball field in Firemen’s Park. This area would accommodate a 7,500 square foot pool which some committee members felt was too small.
If the village board should decide to go any further with this, I strongly suggest that a referendum vote be taken to decide the fate of the new pool. I, for one, can certainly live without it.
Dick Emerson is the former publisher of the DeForest Times-Tribune.