Marshfield, WI (OnFocus) The Common Council voted in a special meeting Monday to keep Hefko pool closed for the summer 2020 season.
The pool was scheduled to open on June 20 per direction from the council last week during discussions on reopening city facilities.
The pool anticipated a 50 percent loss in revenue due to a shorter season, and increased staffing and supplies needs, according to Parks and Recreation Director Justin Casperson in a presentation to the council.
The council’s decision was swayed by cost savings related to a favorable bidding climate for a new outdoor aquatic center on the Hefko Pool location. Private fundraising has reached $2.5 million with a goal of $3 million, with the City matching the private donations and contribution an additional $500,000 for soft costs.
“What was predicted as a really busy summer and busy construction season has taken a downturn because of the pandemic. Contractors are looking for work either late this summer or this fall, so times are good for bidding,” said Casperson.
“For me what this comes down to is a very shortened season and expense I just don’t think the city necessarily needs to take on. It makes me sad because I’d like to see the pool be open because I think people are going to use it if it’s open,” said alderperson Rebecca Spiros. “However with that said, the idea of being able to get an RFP done quicker to get our bids quicker to get a lower rate, I think economically outweighs the benefits of keeping the pool open for 60 days max this year.”
Alderman Tom Witzel was optimistic that the remaining $500,000 could be privately raised. “The idea that we can potentially go out for RFP, that we could potentially get the ball rolling with the monies that we have, and then we can finish things off as the rest of the monies comes in, I think that’s extremely appealing to me,” he said.
With a favorable schedule, the new aquatic center could potentially be finished by June 2021.
Alderman Ed Wagner was against the plan until the funds could be raised. “I don’t think it’s wise to begin the construction on it until we have the money in the bank,” he said. “This virus has had a horrible impact on our business community, a lot of people are out of work, a lot of people are drawing unemployment. I don’t know that the fundraising is going to be there.”
“I think we have an opportunity here and if we keep the pool shut and go ahead and get RFPS and get good bids, I think everything else will follow,” said Alderman Peter Hendler. “Because if we do anything to slow down this process I think we’ll slow down donors too.”
Witzel made a motion to not open Hefko pool this season and instead move forward with an RFP to start the process to get the outdoor aquatic center completed. The motion passed with Alderman Ed Wagner voting no.