Janesville61.4°

City staff says maintain or upgrade Rockport and Palmer

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ANN MARIE AMES
December 13, 2007
— Janesville residents who have been waiting patiently to wade into the pool discussion …

Next month you’ll get your chance.


The Janesville City Council on Wednesday set a public hearing for 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 28, at the Municipal Building, 18 N. Jackson St, Janesville. The public will get to talk about two recommendations City Manager Steve Sheiffer made to the board Wednesday night:


-- Maintain the existing facilities at Rockport and Palmer pools and Lions Beach.


That option would not require a capital loan. The annual impact on a home assessed at $112,700 would be what it is now—$10.74.


City staff estimated Janesville would spend $2.1 million over 20 years to maintain the pools and beach.


The pros of the maintenance option include a low property tax impact and preservation of Janesville’s historic pool locations, Sheiffer said. Cons include lower attendance and high operation costs.


-- Upgrade Rockport and maintain Palmer pool.


The city would borrow up to $5 million for construction. The annual impact on an average Janesville home would be $13.05.


City staff estimate the 20-year operation and maintenance cost at $537,600.


Pros include a low property tax increase, low operation costs and high cost recovery. Cons include high construction cost and extending the decision on the future of the Palmer Park pool.


Rockport Pool is 27 years old, and the wading pool at Palmer is 70 years old. Both are in need of repairs.


About 15 percent of Janesville residents use the city’s pools. The swimmer capacity between Rockport and Palmer pools and Lions Beach is 1,065.


That’s a momentary snapshot, not a daily use, Sheiffer said.


And it’s not the same as attendance because many go to the pool but don’t get in.


Between 2004 and 2006, the peak daily attendance was 1,042. Attendance on an average day was 624 at both pools and the beach.


Swimmers are split evenly between Rockport and Palmer, Sheiffer said. About 43 percent go to Rockport and 45 percent to Palmer, Sheiffer said.


“It almost begs the question of having only one facility,” he said. “But you’ve got the tradition in Janesville of having multiple facilities because that’s what’s always been open.”


Sheiffer did not recommend an option designed by a resident committee that met for more than a year. The committee recommended a new pool at Palmer Park and the addition of a shallow pool at Rockport as well as six splash pads around the city. Construction for that option would have been $9 million and would have cost the city nearly $12 million over 20 years.


It would have doubled the amount of property taxes for the average homeowner.


What’s next?

After a public hearing, the council would have to vote three times before work could begin—or be shot down—on the pools:


-- A vote to create a building committee.


-- A vote to proceed to the design and development phase of the project to pinpoint costs and put the project to bid.


-- A vote to approve a bid.


If you go

What: Public hearing on whether to maintain or upgrade Rockport Pool, the wading pool and Palmer Park and Lions Beach.


When: 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 28


Where: City of Janesville Municipal Building, 18 N. Jackson St., Janesville.


What they said

George Brunner: “I look at the upgrade option as something that would be doable, but it would take additional study to bring those costs down.”


Bill Truman: “I’d like to upgrade Rockport and do something different (than new construction) with Palmer. I could never see closing Palmer completely. I think Palmer is a vital park in our city.”


Amy Loasching: “We need to try to keep the costs down but look at upgrading, so we’re not charging tax payers more than we would by maintaining what we have. I would like to know what the difference is between maintaining what we have at Palmer with a fee versus without a fee.”


Russ Steeber: “I don’t think there’s much debate in which direction we really need to go to. If we got the pie in the sky, we’d get new pools. But I think you need to look at upgrading and maintaining what you already had.”


Craig DeGarmo: “I’ve always felt a significant upgrade to Rockport is necessary. I would like to take (a new pool at) Palmer off the table, knowing that in the not too distant future, there may need to be more money put back into Palmer.”



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