Vruwink: “The Future of Quality Public Aquatics is Right Now”
To the Editor:
For nearly a century, recreational aquatics has been woven into the fabric of Wisconsin Rapids life. From the East Side Pool, built in the early 1900’s, to Mead Pool, constructed during the 1970’s, the City and its river have provided residents and visitors with a form of safe and healthy fun.
In early January, the city held a series of focus groups representing a cross section of our community to inform a study to be conducted of city residents. Since that time, our researcher conducted a random phone & email survey about potential aquatic options in Wisconsin Rapids, to gain insight into the community’s needs and desires. We have been gratified by your willingness to provide feedback, because such collaboration is vital to making quality aquatics a reality.
The need to upgrade our local aquatics offerings became urgent late last year, when State and County health Inspectors moved Mead Pool’s operational permit to a “Conditional” status. Based upon a third-party engineering review and resident feedback, the option of reactivating our operating license and re-opening Mead Pool in 2016 would not offer the long-term, cost-effective solution our community deserves.
The City expects to have the results of the aquatics survey and will share them during a public forum, where we encourage additional input. In the meantime, City leaders want to keep you updated on where our community is in the process of revitalizing our aquatics offerings.
Options under consideration include:
- Building a new outdoor pool, with the possibility of splash pads;
- Partnering with the City South Wood County YMCA on a project that would allow public access to a proposed indoor facility; and
- In the interim, utilizing already-budgeted resources to fund a range of summer youth recreation opportunities.
Our community is at a crossroads in terms of deciding how much we wish to invest in a solution that is economically feasible; makes our community an attractive and welcoming environment for new residents and businesses; and contributes to the health and well being of our citizens, both now and in the future. Investing in our quality of life is an integral part of our economic development strategy.
Armed with public support, the Wisconsin Rapids City Council and I continue our commitment to pursue a sustainable solution to our aquatics needs.