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City of Farmington zeroes in on pool plan

A concept plan for a new aquatic facility includes waterslides and a little-seen climbing wall.

Farmington’s outdoor pool gets to be a pretty busy place during the hot days of summer. But the pool has been open for 44 years, and city officials are not sure how many more years it will be able to operate.

A possible solution to that problem was introduced this week when consultant USAquatics shared a recommendation for a new, $7- to $10 million aquatic facility with the Farmington Parks and Recreation Commission and the Farmington City Council.

In 2012, Farmington parks and recreation director Randy Distad let PARC and city council members know that the current pool’s days were likely limited. Built in 1971, the pool has served the community for more than four decades, but requires multiple repairs every year. It was Distad’s opinion the pool needs should be addressed within five years.

Two years later, his opinion remains the same.

“We’ve squeezed a lot of extra years out of that pool,” Distad said. “Now we have reached a point where we have to make some decision on where we want to go for aquatics in Farmington.”

At a workshop last August, council and PARC members agreed to move ahead with a feasibility study to determine what Farmington’s pool needs are, and how much it would cost to build whatever new facility was recommended. As a result, a pool committee of city, school district, business and community members was formed, and USAquatics was hired to do the study.

The study provided five options for consideration: do nothing and close the outdoor pool when it is no longer usable, repair the existing pool, renovate and expand the existing pool, turn the existing pool site into a spray pad or water deck, or build a new facility at another location.

The proposed site for the new pool facility is on the Jim Bell Park and Preserve land north of 195th Street in central Farmington. The committee looked at placing a new facility on the current site, but the pool area is landlocked by housing and the Dakota County Fair property to the south, and would not offer the space needed for the recommended facility.


The proposed facility will require a sizable piece of land if it is to be built in its entirety. The Family Aquatic Center includes a lap area, a lazy river, river rapids, a large zero-depth entry splash area, waterslides and a bath house. The base cost, Distad said, is around $7.2 million.

But there are also several alternates that could be added to the project.

The committee wanted to find amenities that would make Farmington’s facility different from others in the area. One of the amenities considered but rejected was an aqua sport climbing wall, would have been the first of its kind in Minnesota and one of only 10 in North America. The current plan includes a less elaborate climbing wall along the edge of one section of water.

Another proposed alternate is a mat water racer, a large slip and slide-style area. The one shown in the proposal includes a large slide, similar to the Giant Slide at the Minnesota State Fair.

While waterslides are part of the base project, an inner tube slide is also included as an alternate.

The project would cost approximately $10 million with all of the proposed amenities.


Given the projected costs associated with the project, it is likely the city would have to go to the voters for a referendum, Distad said.

If council members decide to go ahead with the project, the referendum would likely be placed on the November, 2014 ballot. That way, a new facility could be built within Distad’s original five-year timeline.

For the $7 million project, residents owning a home with a market value of $200,000 would see an increase of $69.45 on their property taxes. A homeowner with a $275,000 market value home would have an increase of $100.86.

The $10 million project would increase residential homestead taxes on a $200,000 market value home by $99.22, and by $144.10 for a $275,000 market value home.

The pool workshop had not been held by press time this week. However, residents can see a copy of the pool study on the city’s website,, under the parks and recreation commission’s agenda files. The Independent Town Pages will provide an update in next week’s publication.

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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