During these hot summer days, many in Waunakee probably long for a swimming pool to take a dip. And if not for the coronavirus pandemic, planning would likely be underway for some sort of aquatic facility.
Waunakee’s parks and recreation committee, along with a subcommittee, had begun exploring the idea of a new pool last year, but when COVID-19 hit, that work was put on pause.
Still, Waunakee’s Community Services Director Sue McDade believes efforts will resume in the future.
“I think we’re going to circle back, but I think we need to work through the budget process first and see the big picture,” McDade said. “I think it’s still a priority. I think people are still talking about it and interested in it.”
Last August, the parks and recreation committee hosted a public session to explore different possibilities and price points for a community-wide aquatic facility, ranging from a splash park to a year-round facility with some sort of retractable dome for winter use.
Afterwards, about 40 people expressed interest in helping with the planning effort, and a request for proposals was sent out for professional planning services.
A subcommittee interviewed teams to begin the process, and community-wide conversations ensued with the hope that planning for a facility would follow.
The professional team would facilitate surveys and focus groups to determine what direction village officials should take, McDade said. It would also look into potential partnerships with private entities.
“We got right to that point where we had a firm, we had a leading candidate we picked out and we were gathering stuff together to take to the board,” McDade added.
But it never made it to the board. The virus hit, and the pandemic changed the community services department’s focus.
But now a village-wide community survey is underway with several questions related to a potential aquatic facility. McDade said it uses statistically scientific methodology with homes targeted to take the survey. Homes selected to participate in the survey have already received post cards.
“I’m super excited about it, not only were we able to put the swimming pool questions in there, but in general there were a lot of good questions related to what we do, parks and open space and trails and recreational programming and special events. So I think we’re going to learn a lot about what people think about us,” McDade said about the survey.
Once the survey results are in and village departments work through this budget cycle, McDade said she believes the parks and recreation committee will come back to the pool planning process.
“Hopefully, this new normal settles down so we can see that we’re going to get to play together again,” McDade said. “Until we know that that’s going to happen and what that’s going to look like, it’s hard to talk about planning a multi-million dollar facility perhaps. You don’t even know if you can open it.”