By Joe Bachman
The YMCA is proposing a summer program for youths on the westside of Wisconsin Rapids in absence of the Mead Pool.
“What we’re proposing is a three month option for children to come on a week by week basis and working directly with the school,” said YMCA executive Brett Salscheider. “We’re looking at all partners to make this affordable and accessible for all children and their families.”
The cost of $4 per child per day would include swimming lessons, physical fitness, gymnastics and sports through the YMCA in Port Edwards, and outdoor recreation, boating, ziplining and archery through Camp Alexander. The estimated cost would be $20 per week per child, as well as busing costs up to $5,500 that would be subsidized by the city.
In it’s entirely, if awarded, the contract carries an estimated cost of $110,000 — a cost that council members were reluctant to budget for. Approximately $74,000 is available in the budget for use from the Mead Pool, as the pool will remain closed for this year. Still, members we’re weary of making a quick financial commitment that could potentially cost taxpayers extra money.
“My thoughts are that we don’t do anything until we decide what we’re going to do,” said alderman Todd Ferkey. “We might end up having another outdoor pool in that exact same footprint.”
Ferkey also questioned why the responsibility for youth summer activities falls on the city. “I’m at a loss as to see why the city is doing this — are we doing this just because we don’t have a pool, to give children activities?” said Ferkey. “To me, this looks more a part of the school system’s focus, rather than the city of Wisconsin Rapids.”
Mayor Zach Vruwink noted that there will be costs born by the parents and families, and not all of the subsidized costs would land in the taxpayer’s hands. Alderperson Lee Thao brought up the accessibility aspect of the proposal, and the fact that the program would currently only be offered to students on the westside of Rapids.
“In all fairness, it should be open to the city as a whole, not just two districts,” said Thao. “If we’re going to use their taxpayer money, we should open it up to everyone.”
“I’m all for it,” said alderman Terry Dolan, who emphasized the importance of taking care of the children, regardless if it falls on the city or the schools. “We have to do something for the kids.”
The decision by the committee was to hold over further discussion until next week’s meeting.