By Jacob Mathias
With the future of aquatics offerings in Wisconsin Rapids still uncertain, city leaders are commissioning a study of the public’s wants and preferences regarding new aquatics facilities.
Mayor Zachary Vruwink proposed commissioning the study by Florida-based PB&A Marketplace Intelligence at a meeting of the city’s Finance and Property Committee on December 15. The aim of the study is to the residents’ desires for a new aquatics center within the boundaries of the city. It will also examine what elements and features are most desired and likely to be supported and used should a swimming complex be built.
“In order for us to cross the bridge about understanding resident preference and desires at it relates to aquatics, we should probably directly ask them their feedback,” said Vruwink. “This is one such way to do so.”
A starting date for the study has not been announced though once it begins it is estimated it will take about four weeks to complete. Vruwink said he hopes to have the study completed by March.
According to PB&A, the following information will be gathered and analyzed:
- An assessment, on an unaided and aided basis, of community needs and wants in terms of recreational offerings and programs, including, but not limited to aquatics.
- The relative demand and desire for specific aquatics facilities including whether or not there is a preference for outdoor offerings versus an indoor center and what specifically these facilities should include and be able to offer in terms of youth and adult fun time swim, instruction, lap swim, and exercise.
- Likely usage and willingness to pay.
- Reaction to a new aquatics complex being built and managed by the City versus a partnership between the City and the YMCA and/or any other community organization.
- Identification of other factors that may help or hinder the success of this new community asset.
“We want to have that input prior to making any decisions,” said District 1 Alderman Lee Thao.
The study will be completed in three stages that will include focus groups, telephone interviews and e-mail surveys.
“We’re at that junction where we want true input and we’re going to make decisions off of that input,” said District 8 Alderman Terry Dolan.
The cost of the study is $12,950, which comes at a $4,000 discount since PB&A have done work in the city in the past, specifically for the YMCA. A grant is being sought to fund the study but the city’s aquatics budget could provide funding if the grant is not awarded.
The next meeting of the Finance and Property Committee is January 5 at 5:00 PM in City Hall.