Pool study committee to examine site possibilities
By Kris Leonhardt
MARSHFIELD — During the Jan. 24 meeting of the Marshfield Common Council, city leaders tasked the 13-member Marshfield Pool Study Committee with identifying four to six potential sites for a future aquatic center to replace Hefko Pool.
The committee had originally gathered information on cost estimates and conceptual designs for the purposed replacement of the more than 80-year-old pool. Following a seven-month process working with architectural and engineering firm Ayres and Associates, the committee presented its final plan.
The preferred concept returned to the council has an estimated cost of $6 million and would include two pool vessels, one with lap lanes; a wave resistance pool; a play structure; two slides; two diving boards; shade structures; green space; and a bath house.
The council next addressed location, following up on a concern addressed by Alderman Chris Jockheck at a previous council meeting.
Mayor Chris Meyer mentioned a possible conflict in leaving the pool in its current location, stating that Hefko Pool resides on land belonging to publicly-owned Marshfield Utilities and that there could be an issue if Marshfield Utilities would need to expand.
“They have two options: build completely new somewhere else or expand onsite, which is obviously more cost effective for rate payers,” said Meyer. “So in order to do that, Hefko Pool would have to be relocated.
“I suspect the (pool study) committee would be open to taking on an additional role with site selection, but one of the important things I think that we need to provide them is some parameters for what we are looking at. Are considering an option on the north end of town? Are we only looking south of Veterans Parkway on the south end of town? What are some of those parameters? … I think just to say, ‘Go out and find a site,’ might be a little short-sighted.”
Several council members expressed an interest in keeping the pool on the south side of the city.
“Living in the south side of town since the early ‘70s, I have watched a steady decline of businesses, of economic opportunities on that south side since the ‘70s,” said Alderman Tom Witzel. “I’ve watched from going from two grocery stores to the now the nearest one is Washington Square (Pick ‘n Save), … restaurants that have disappeared, tons of other businesses that have just dried up.
“All of the sudden, we are starting to see a little rejuvenation. … There are so many businesses that are potentially developing, have developed, and that could really be hindered by a potential relocation so that the utility can have a bigger building.
“I have only been on the council a short time, and I have received more phone calls about the potential of a move of a pool than I have any other complaints about snow plowing and anything else.”
“I would agree with you,” said Meyer. “I think it should be on the south end. I am not in favor of moving it drastically, but the cost difference between building a new facility for the utility and expanding is $5 million. That makes putting on the same spot a $5 million decision for us to the rate payers if that is what they end up going forward with.
“I want to be clear that when we look at these land costs, keeping it on the same site is not a free choice. There is still going to be a cost that comes down in another part of city government via the utility if and when they have to expand.”
A motion was then brought to the council to direct the pool study committee to come back with a list of potential sites for the proposed future pool. The motion passed in an 8-1 vote with Ed Wagner voting no and Alanna Feddick absent.
“Options are good. Options lead to choice. Choice can perhaps lead to lower costs. … A committee that is already knee-deep in understanding, I think that would be appropriate for those folks to continue marching down that road,” said Alderman Jason Zaleski. “Give some choice, and let’s choose the best option.”