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Council to hire aquatics consultant

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MARCIA A. NELESEN
January 29, 2008
— A decision on Janesville's aquatic future has been postponed again, and the new council elected in April likely will make the decisions.

The council voted unanimously Monday to spend $18,500 so a consultant can price improvements to Rockport Park, reopening the Riverside Wading Pool or building splash pads.


Council members on Monday gave new hope to the Friends of Riverside Park when a majority said they would consider reopening the wading pool there.


Councilman Craig DeGarmo was absent.


City Manager Steve Sheiffer had suggested that the council decide the future of Rockport Pool on Monday.


"The key facility is Rockport Pool," he said. "It's going to drive everything else."


He suggested a cap on any Rockport Pool improvements at $5 million but hoped they could be done for less.


Spending money on upgrades would drive down the subsidy that maintains the pool.


Sheiffer also warned the council about the possible future cost to maintain Palmer Park Wading Pool, which is 70 years old.


Four residents spoke against spending money on aquatics.


Dale Thompson, Janesville, said money is tight for all government entities, and aquatics are not high on his list of priorities.


Al Lembrich, Janesville, questioned the wisdom of first spending $250,000 for the initial consultant and now another $18,900 for a second consultant.


Other residents spoke in favor of reopening Riverside.


Kim Hendricks, Janesville, spoke of the city's quality of life and the factors that make people want to live in communities.


"There's a certain amount of (positive) energy ... that comes with recreational things to do. Start to take those elements and cut them out, (you) still have to be a place where people want to live ... Don't lose sight of why we love this city," she said. "Once energy starts going backward, it's kind of hard to reverse that trend."


Councilman Russ Steeber agreed that a pool is a quality of life issue for a certain segment of the population.


He said he also hears from residents who say the city must care for what it has.


He urged the council to hire the consultant to get the figures needed to make good decisions.


Sheiffer had suggested that the council form a Rockport Pool committee of residents, but Williams said it is time for the council to make the decisions.


Most council members said they'd consider reopening Riverside.


"I think there is definitely a desire to have that location reopened by the citizens," Councilwoman Amy Loasching said. "... If it's that low of cost, I think somehow we can come up with $23,000."


"I repeatedly hear that somehow the city administration shall find money," Sheiffer answered. "I will continue to say to you, ‘There is going to have to be a cut in service or staffing someplace else.'"


Said Councilman Bill Truman: "Riverside is a vital park—along with Palmer—and we need to get with these people putting all their work out there and saving the taxpayers money," he said as clapping erupted in the room.


President George Brunner said: "The council now has a clear agenda to take a look at Rockport, Riverside and Palmer and see which direction we're going to go with aquatics for the citizens.”



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