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Farmington's outdoor pool is nearing end of lifespan

Even though the Farmington outdoor pool is a pretty happening place this summer, it won't be long before the list of things that "should" be done at the pool crosses over the line to things that "need to" be done.

Farmington parks and recreation director Randy Distad gives it five years or less before decisions need to be made regarding the pool, which has cooled off kids in Farmington for more than four decades. Built in 1969, the pool has served the community well, but it is showing signs of its age. The 2013 proposed city budget includes an allocation of $5,500 in building supplies to replace the roof of the changing house, in addition to $2,500 in repairs for plumbing, filters, pool vacuum and the pool heater.

These days, there are all kinds of alternatives to an outdoor swimming pool. Both Eagan and Apple Valley have aquatic centers with multiple slides and boards and water everywhere. Those water parks are popular, but so are the smaller, shallower splash pools that many families with smaller children frequent. There are indoor pools, there are outdoor pools. And there are combinations of all of the above out there, Distad said.

"I'd say we have about five years or less before we have to make decisions on the existing pool," he said. "Do we build a new pool, or do we look at something different in the aquatic area? It could range from an aquatic park or a splash pool."

The discussion started during a July 23 Farmington City Council budget workshop, but it will likely continue next week. Council members and commissioners from the parks and recreation commission are taking a tour of the city's parks facilities Aug. 8.

Visiting all of the city's parks should help to put things into perspective, Distad said, because council members will be able to see what is already located in each park. That will be important when the city starts to consider the pool's future, he added.

"Whatever way the council or the city wants to go, we will have to identify where that facility will be located. There are a couple different locations that would work," he said.

It's not that the neighboring water parks are making much of a dent in the attendance at the Farmington pool. Attendance has been up this year, and this is a record year for the number of family passes sold.

Instead, it's a conversation that will have to be held, kind of like when the Schmitz-Maki Ice Arena's refrigeration system had to be updated. There again, it was a matter of whether the city wanted to explore new options and possibly build a second sheet of ice, or make upgrades to the current facility. In the arena's case, city officials chose the latter.

"We have had to do some replacements (to the pool) over the years. Pumps. Hot water heaters. We had to make repairs to the drop slide. It's still in pretty useable condition but within five years we have to make some decisions," Distad said. "Do we start over or do we put a bunch of money into the facility and still have a facility that was built in 1969?"

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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