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Pool is a go

Estherville voters give go ahead to new pool with 69 percent in favor

August 11, 2019
Amy H. Peterson - Staff Writer ( , Estherville News

While social media dissenters questioned whether the existing, unused Estherville municipal pool could be repaired (not sustainably nor with any significant expense in the flood plain) or how much Estherville residents' property taxes will go up (none on account of the pool), in the end 69 percent (732) of the votes cast Tuesday were in favor of the pool with 31 percent (329) opposed. Estherville has just over 3,925 registered voters.

Al Wudel was one person who was not in favor of the pool. "I can't speak for all of the 31 percent who voted no. In my mind it was a need/priority issue." Wudel said there were other things the city might have spent $4-5 million on, including creating good jobs, infrastructure, freezing utility costs, or improving the look of dilapidated buildings and properties around the city.

"For any of these, I'd be the first to vote yes, but what's done is done. Let's move on and work together on making the community a better place to live," Wudel said.

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Supporters of the pool also took to Facebook to state their reasons for wanting a pool. While supporters acknowledged that a pool by itself would not necessarily bring new residents to the city, it's one amenity that young families look for when deciding where to locate.

Don Brown stated in a letter that ran in Monday's edition of the Estherville News that while he would never use the pool and his grandchildren did not visit very often, he would vote yes because the pool will be an asset to the community in the future.

Peggy Alig said, "I am so happy it passed. Can't wait to take my grandkids there in 2021. We have traveled to Graettinger and Fairmont in the past, even when the Estherville pool was open. Kids like the other features at the pools out of town. Now we can stay in Estherville."

Julie Buetel-Brandt echoed Alig's excitement. "I'm excited for it, not only for my family but for my daycare kiddos as well. It'll be nice to have a pool to take them to again."

The project has had its hiccups over the last several years. A community survey indicated most residents were in favor of locating the pool north of Thoreson Park where it would provide a complement to the ballfields there, and serve as a vehicle for extra parking that would benefit both the pool and the ballfields. However, a verbal agreement to purchase land fell through as the price went up to acquire it and the offer was changed to include less land. This left the green space between the Regional Wellness Center and the Christensen building as the remaining viable space to locate the project.

A pool committee consisting of stakeholder citizens and two members of the Estherville Parks & Rec board worked for well over a year on the pool design. That design drives the final design, the 35th version that will serve as the construction design. The pool includes zero-depth entry with water features, a waterslide, a one-meter diving tower, six 25-meter swim lanes, a tropical island hover pad, a floatable walk, and a climbing wall, as well as shade structures. Nearly half the square footage is devoted to a play area of two-to-four foot depth to accommodate kids who, according to city administrator Penny Clayton, attend the pool to "goof around with their friends."

Jeff Anderson said, "As a former resident with family still in the area, I'm excited to have a reason to stay in Estherville when we come up to visit. As it is now, we typically hike Ft. Defiance in the warmer months or catch a movie at the theater in colder months. The rest of our time is usually spent at the Lakes. We will certainly take a day or two and use the new pool when we visit."

The pool will have a capacity of 412 patrons, and a bathhouse to include a family bathroom and changing area as well as a concession stand.

Darin Olson said, "One thing is for sure. If you're not moving forward you are moving backwards. How do you expect to attract young families if you have nothing for them to do? This combo is a win-win in my book. This pool will be modern and interactive. After all, it takes a lot now-a-days to compete with video games."

The existing pool will be demolished, an expense included in the total $4.5 million price tag. $4.1 million will be paid for through the bond just approved with the rest raised through fundraisers and a planned capital campaign. The riverfront bathhouse, built in 1985 with a recent roof replacement, will be repurposed.

Shirley Keeler said the project is, "fantastic for our kids. I wish it could be where the old pool is; I have such great memories of it from when I was a kid."

The next step in the project is to advertise for bids for the construction of the project.



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