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Farmington council wants study for new pool options

If a new swimming pool is in Farmington's future, it's pretty likely a levy referendum to pay for that pool will be in Farmington's future, as well.

The timing of both is yet to be determined, but Farmington City Council and parks and recreation commission members agree that now is the time to start making those kinds of plans.

Farmington's current outdoor pool was topic of discussion during a workshop of the two boards Monday.

Constructed in 1969 and opened in 1970, the current outdoor pool has served the community for more than four decades. The average life of a pool of that era, parks and recreation director Randy Distad said, is 30 to 35 years.

What generally happens with older pools, Distad said, is the underground plumbing springs leaks, which causes the pool to lose water. If that happens with the current pool, it will force the city to close the pool permanently. However, he added, it is impossible to know how many more years of use city will get from the pool.

PARC chairman David McMillen told council members the parks board ideally recommends two things happen in regards to the city's outdoor pool — first, a new aquatic facility be built in the central section of Farmington, on the Jim Bell Park and Preserve land north of 195th Street West; second, the current pool be converted into a splash pad for younger users.

Council members understand the need for a new aquatic facility.

"I do believe it's something that's needed sooner or later," mayor Todd Larson said. "I just don't know how we're going to pay for it."

If the city chooses to go ahead with a new aquatic center, council members agreed they would need to place a levy referendum on a ballot for voters to approve. The timing of such a question, though, is still being determined. Finance director Robin Hanson indicated the best time would be in either 2014 or 2016 to coincide with a general election. The latter, she added, might be longer than the life of the current pool.

Council member Christy Jo Fogarty believes the community would support a referendum for a new pool, as long as it's not an extremely elaborate water park-style facility.

"I'm not afraid to go to a voter referendum for a pool," she said. "I know the community would support it as long as we remember what community we're in."

Council members are not interested in competing with the water parks in Apple Valley or Eagan, but favor an outdoor pool with a few amenities like slides, diving boards and so on.

The location for a new facility is also up for discussion. Although the Jim Bell Park and Preserve land is in a more central location, having the pool in its current location in Pine Knoll Park also pushes traffic through the downtown area, Fogarty said.

Council members indicated they would like to hear some thoughts from residents before going forward with decisions on what kind of facilities to build, and where to build them. They directed city staff to initiate a feasibility study that would help set some parameters for a possible future project, and how much the future projects might cost.

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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