As costly repairs continue to mount, school officials question if it is time to pull the plug, plan new facility
If Cedar Grove-Belgium School District residents value the pool at the middle school, they should use it more and be willing to spend money on it or replace it with a new facility.
Thatâ€™s the message from School Board members and gym-and-swim coordinator Patti Hinze after reviewing recent repair costs and the current condition of the pool on Jan. 9.
â€śIt seems like we keep putting Band-Aids and quick fixes,â€ť Board President Jim Lautenschlaeger said. â€śItâ€™s 43 years old. Is there ever a point itâ€™s not fiscally responsible to keep fixing it?â€ť
A report from Phil Burns, who maintains the pool, showed most major mechanical items have been replaced in the last few years at a cost of more than $40,000. The most expensive was rebuilding the air handling unit last year, which cost $24,000. A new water heater was installed in December at a cost of $8,100.
New pool filters, which cost $38,400, and new pool blankets, which cost $12,000, are needed, Burns said.
But the real unknown is the condition of the original cast iron pipes, which have not been televised, Supt. Steve Shaw said.
â€śWe have been advised not to send a camera down because it could punch a hole if there is a weak spot,â€ť he said. â€śWhen those go, itâ€™s done.â€ť
Hinze said people who use the pool are frequent users, but not enough people use it and recent efforts to draw more customers havenâ€™t been successful.
â€śWe were open seven nights a week, but there werenâ€™t enough people, so we cut back to two nights â€” Mondays and Wednesdays â€” and every other Saturday. Sometimes, there is only one person on Saturday,â€ť she said.
The pool is also open for lap swimming from 5:45 to 6:45 a.m. Mondays through Fridays and for lap swimming and water aerobics Monday and Wednesday nights before gym and swim.
In addition, the pool is used every afternoon for middle-school gym classes and for swim lessons on Saturday mornings. More than 700 children annually take swim lessons, Hinze said. A swim club also uses the pool.
â€śThere is not a pool anywhere thatâ€™s in the black,â€ť she said. â€śYou hope that you come close to meeting expenses. Itâ€™s something you do for your community.â€ť
However, she said, the school district will have to decide how important the pool is to the district and residents.
â€śItâ€™s becoming a money pit,â€ť Hinze said. â€śAs a taxpayer, are you going to keep a pool owned by the school district or should the pool be owned by the community?â€ť
Lautenschlaeger said he hoped the pool could be used for another eight to 10 years when the district is debt free before seeking a referendum for a pool.
â€śIâ€™ll spend $12,000 for pool blankets rather than $4 million to build a new pool,â€ť board member Todd Bucher said. â€śEverything is all new except the drain pipes. Iâ€™ll gladly spend the money to maintain it.
â€śI think the pool is very important to the district. I think you need to get the community more involved so in 10 years you have a better chance to get it approved.
Acuity in Sheboygan has offered to fund a project in the school district that bears its name, Lautenschlaeger said.
â€śThey have a soft spot for the school district because former board president Brian Obbink (who drowned in 2005) worked for them,â€ť he said. â€śItâ€™s time for us to get something together. We have a need and now may be the time for an Acuity Aquatic Center.â€ť