Janesville68.9°

Open road, keep pool closed: City

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MARCIA A. NELESEN
April 26, 2008
— The upper road in Janesville’s Riverside Park should be opened, but the wading pool should remain closed—at least until all aquatic facilities can be studied by the council in August, City Manager Steve Sheiffer has recommended.

Sheiffer hinted in a memo that a splash pad might be the best alternative for the park. And he suggested spending $10,000 to $15,000 to study the future of the park.


Councilman Bill Truman and Amy Loasching asked that the wading pool and road be put on Monday’s agenda.


A public hearing is not scheduled, but the council allows residents to discuss items on the agenda at the start of the 7 p.m. meeting.


Friends of Riverside Park have been pushing to reopen both the pool and Parkhill Drive for more than two years to help revitalize one of city’s most beautiful parks.


The road was closed in 1996 because of rowdy behavior. The pool was closed in 2002 to save money.


Leisure Services Director Mike Williams recommends that the road be opened one way from north to south. He also suggests a speed limit of 15 mph.


Williams said the friends want to preserve the historical character of the park and open the scenic drive to the driving public.


Some golfers, though, worry about the safety and aesthetics of more traffic. The road comes close to a tee and a green. And they believe reopening the road gives vandals better access to the course.


The friends have pledged $1,500 to help pay for a barrier to keep vehicles off the course.


As for the wading pool, Sheiffer said he is concerned about investing in a facility that is 70 years old and gets flooded when the river is over its banks.


He noted that the pool was closed when the city lost shared revenues.


In 2009, the city must deal with an operations deficit of about $500,000 caused by the state cap on levies.


If the council votes to reopen the pool, funds could be put in the 2008 note issue to be introduced at the May 12 meeting.


Sheiffer estimated the cost of running the wading pool at $24,072, with an average cost per participant of $3.21. This contrasts with the operating cost of $48,595 at Palmer Park Wading Pool, where the cost per participant is $1.87; and at Lions Beach, where the operating cost is $5,103 with a participant cost of 73 cents.


Because of the current flooding, Sheiffer doesn’t know the capital cost to reopen the pool. He estimates staff needs 30 days for those figures.


The cost of a splash pad would be $250,000 with a participant cost of $1.33.


Sheiffer said that when numbers are available he would compare the capital costs and operating costs for a wading pool over 20 years to a splash pad that could be located on higher ground and out of the floodway.


Sheiffer offered $10,00 to $15,000 from the parkland acquisition fund to prepare a plan for the future of Riverside Park.


“… Riverside Park is an extremely important city park and … significant investment is justified to restore the buildings and the grounds,” Sheiffer said. “We also believe there is a need to have a future plan for the park. The community has changed significantly since this park was opened.”


He doubts that the city could reopen the pool for the start of the swimming season given the flooding.


IF YOU GO

The Janesville City Council meets at 7 p.m. Monday in City Hall, 18 N. Jackson St. Residents can address park issues at the start of the meeting.



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