By Adam Hocking
MARSHFIELD — According to city documents, Hefko Pool was built in 1933 and has not been significantly updated since 1974, and now the city of Marshfield will study the possibility of constructing a replacement.
On Tuesday night the common council approved the formation of a committee — made up of city staff, council members, and residents — to guide the process of looking at options to improve the pool situation in Marshfield. The council also authorized the city to seek consulting services from an architecture/engineering firm to help guide the committee. That firm will analyze options including renovating Hefko and building new.
A pool study the city had done in 2000 recommended construction of a new pool at an estimated cost of $3.2 million. Parks and Recreation Director Justin Casperson indicated that, given the age of Hefko, the best option is likely to look at constructing a new pool, pending the financial resources to do so.
Casperson compared the situation at Hefko to an old car or house that needs continual maintenance, noting that it may be better to build new rather than continue to invest significant money in maintaining an old facility.
“Is it better to keep replacing a transmission on a 15-year-old vehicle, or is it probably just better to buy a new vehicle?” Casperson said.
In terms of a site for a new pool, Casperson said, “We’re probably going to try to concentrate our efforts at the current site (of Hefko Pool).”
A preliminary project schedule calls for a presentation of the city’s options to be made to the common council in November of this year. Casperson stressed that the success of a possible new pool initiative would likely rest on the appetite of the community to help finance such a venture.
“I don’t think any dollar number amount is comfortable right now,” Casperson said. “We’ve done a lot of community fundraising for the fire department, the STEM building, the library, the bear exhibit. Now we’re talking about the school district going for referendum and the city going for referendum.”
“I know no number is going to be ideal, but at least we’ll update the numbers and give the council and the community a sense of direction and options, and then we’ll see where it goes from there,” Casperson added.
When asked about the necessity of a pool to Marshfield, Casperson noted that the city has no natural water to utilize and is a substantial distance away from communities that do have rivers or lakes.
“In our area, where it’s more rural, in 30 minutes (driving) you probably won’t hit too many communities (that provide access to water for recreational use),” Casperson said. “Compound that with absolutely no natural water features at all (in Marshfield) … really for water quality, water recreation, we’re pretty starved. We need some sort of water feature in the community.”
Casperson said “in a hypothetical, perfect world,” the start of construction on a new pool would be in late 2017 or early 2018. He noted that, realistically, construction would likely begin later than that given that the council will have to weigh its options, and fundraising for the pool would take time.
The Marshfield Area YMCA is in the process of raising funds for a major expansion of its facilities, including addressing its pool situation. Casperson said it is a possibility the city could look to collaborate in some form with the Y, but even with that, the city needs some form of outdoor water feature as well.
“At the end of the day, at the end of this process, hopefully that’s one of the options we can give the council is, ‘Do you want to consider any type of partnership or collaboration at all with the YMCA?’” Casperson said. “I think no matter what happens, … we probably do need some sort of (outdoor) aquatic feature for the residents of the community. … It could be a splash pad. It could be a wading pool. It could be a smaller pool.”