Janesville30.4°

New pool at Rockport?

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MARCIA A. NELESEN
January 25, 2008
— The Janesville City Council will be asked to vote on the future of Rockport Pool on Monday, and City Manager Steve Sheiffer is recommending a new pool there at a cost of no more than $5 million.

Sheiffer calls his recommended option an upgrade, but the upgrade includes a new vessel with zero-depth entry.


A public hearing is scheduled, and the council is expected to vote Monday night.


Sheiffer outlined two options in a memo to the council:


Option No. 1—Upgrade Rockport Pool and repair and maintain the Palmer Park wading pool.

The city would borrow a maximum of $5 million for construction, and the upgrades would provide room for 800 swimmers. Besides the zero-depth entry, Rockport would have water slides, a new bathhouse and more parking. A lazy river could be added in the future. Sheiffer recommends creating a Rockport Pool Committee and hiring a consultant at a cost of $18,500.


The Palmer Park wading pool and Lions Beach would remain open.


Because of higher fees, annual revenue from Rockport Pool is projected to increase 400 percent to $196,000, reducing the annual subsidy to operate the facility.


The annual total impact—debt service, repairs, maintenance and operations subsidy—would be $13.05 a year for 20 years on a home assessed at $112,700.


Option No. 2—Spending $2.1 million over 20 years to repair and maintain Rockport Pool and the Palmer Park wading pool without upgrades or improvements.

This option wouldn’t have the annual expense of debt service, but because of lower revenue is projected to have an annual operations subsidy early four times higher than option No. 1.


The annual total impact—repairs, maintenance and operations subsidy—would be $10.74 a year for 20 years on a home assessed at $112,700.


Lions Beach would remain open.


In 2006, Sheiffer created a committee to study the city’s aquatics needs and form a recommendation. The water facilities are aging, and the average annual subsidy from 2004-2006 was $200,342.


The committee recommended spending $9 million to build two water facilities—a bigger one in Palmer Park and a smaller facility in Rockport Park—and six splash pads.


Few in the city spoke in favor of the Palmer Park site. And many said the city could not afford such a price tag.


The committee also suggested closing the Palmer Park wading pool because the old facility has a large annual subsidy. But the residents have a soft spot for the wading pool.


Sheiffer recommends that fees be raised at Rockport Pool if a new pool is built—$2 a day for resident youth and $3 a day for non-resident youth.


And he recommends a fee at the Palmer Park wading pool—$1 for a resident and $1.50 for a non-resident.


Lions Beach would remain free.


Sheiffer in his memo said aquatics are a quality-of-life issue.


Rockport Pool is 27 years old, and the Palmer Park wading pool is 70 years old. The annual operating subsidy is high and the use low to moderate.


Sheiffer noted that summer facilities are open about 78 days of the year and used by about 15 percent of the residents.


Members of the Friends of Riverside Park have been waiting for the aquatics public hearing to address the future of the Riverside Park wading pool, and one said she was disappointed that the subject will not be on the agenda Monday night.


That facility has been closed, and they hope to see it reopened.


Pam VanBrocklin said Friends of Riverside Park members have attended committee and council meetings over the two years of discussion but don’t feel as if they’ve had a chance to speak in an organized voice.


George Brunner, council president, said the council might talk about all of the city’s water facilities, but the agenda specifically addresses Rockport Pool.


“The central theme of the public hearing will be on Rockport … and the council will be considering the options regarding the future of that pool,” Brunner said.


The Friends of Riverside Park are welcome to speak, however, he said.


THE NEXT STEP

A public hearing on the future of Rockport Pool is scheduled Monday during the council meeting in City Hall, 18 N. Jackson St. The meeting begins at 7 p.m.



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