Committee pulls plug on city pool idea

Construction costs, lack of suitable site given as reasons for decision

The Stillwater Parks and Recreation Commission decided against recommending that the city council consider building a public swimming pool.

The decision comes after resident Judy Gulden, leader a group interested in getting a munIcipal pool built, wrote city officials in August asking they consider the pool idea.

According to commission member Linda Amrein, the panel heard Sept. 24 from a contractor who specializes in building aquatic centers about what the city would need to construct an aquatic center.

“Long story short, with the size of Stillwater and the area to do the facility, you’d need six to nine acres of land and estimates stood at $8 to $12 million and probably would end up in the $10- to $12-million range,” said Ward 4 CouncilmanMike Polehna, who serves on the commission.

“We don’t have that much land, and we don’t have that much money,” Polehna added. The area around the Rec Center is too tight, the school sites are nowhere near that and we’re just land-locked.”

“After hearing the presentation and learning how much space we’d need to have an adequate aquatic complex we decided to not recommend the idea to council at this time,” Amrein said. “It’s not dead in the water yet, but cost and space prevented recommendation at this time.”

Gulden and her group had asked the city to look into a simple pool that would serve the Stillwater area. Though Polehna wants a pool in Stillwater in the future he said it’s not possible at this time.

“A regular pool is tough to pay bills on and there’s not enough draw. People come for the slides, splash pads and lazy rivers they would have a lap pool as part of it too.” he said. “A simple pool is fine, but an aquatics facility would help to pay for the operating costs. An aquatic center can pay your bills and right now with the simple pool plan all of the costs would be going to the taxpayers for everything.”

Though disappointed, Gulden said she understands the city’s position.

“We were saddened, disappointed and stunned that further study wouldn’t take place for the future when economic times are better.” Gulden said. “Above all we want goodwill with the city, and I appreciate and know how difficult financial situations can be.”

Currently, there are some options for public swimming in the area.

Julie Rademacher of Courage Center Stillwater said the public could use the center’s pool at a cost. She said people must go through orientation and pay a fee or purchase a pass. She added that there is no need for a doctor’s note to use the pool.

Sarah Carlton with Independent School District 834 Community Education said Stillwater and Oak-Land Junior High schools have pools and sometimes offer public swimming.

“We have two pools at Oakland and Stillwater junior high and we usually open them for holiday breaks and spring break,” Carlton said. “We tried it on Saturdays but there was not much participation. We don’t really have consecutive weeks because when we tried it on Saturday’s and no one showed up it’s hard to justify getting a lifeguard in there.”

When the weather is warmer public beaches are available for swimming as well.