School pool closure to continue indefinitely

Short-term fix deemed not feasible; district will wait until renovation plans from referendum are done

By MITCH MAERSCH

Ozaukee Press staff

Swimming is continuing to be put on hold in the Cedar Grove-Belgium School District.

Officials this week decided to keep the pool closed after a band-aid fell through that would have bought time until referendum renovation design plans are completed.

The pool at the middle school was open in spring, but water clarity had gotten worse from sand seeping into the pool and the surge tank in the basement.

A new pump is also necessary since the pool isn’t flowing enough water to meet the turnover rate in Wisconsin code. Building and Grounds Director Ben Lukens said he thinks all the sand coming in is the culprit.

“We’ve been searching for a replacement pump (initially for pricing purposes to see if it even makes sense to fix it) and we’ve been having an extreme amount of trouble finding one,” Lukens said.

As a result, Lukens and Supt. Chad Brakke decided to keep the pool closed until referendum renovations are complete.

“An additional item that weighed in on this decision is that even if we replace the pump it still doesn’t address the sand entering the pool and the surge tank, so we still wouldn’t be able to be sure we could keep it open on a consistent basis,” Lukens said.

Help is on the way, but it likely won’t come fast enough to reopen the pool before 2023.

Brakke said officials are trying to speed up the renovation design process, which requires putting the project out for bid. He said renovation work likely won’t start until February.

Renovations costing $2 million were part of the $21.5 million referendum district voters approved in April. That work is still in the design phase, Lukens said.

Replacing the pool with a new one would cost an estimated $10 million — the same sum required to build the high school in 1997 — and would raise school taxes by $156 a year for a $200,000 home.

That option didn’t get strong support in a community survey the district send out last fall. Forty-four percent of residents said yes while 36% said no. Fifty-six percent of staff members liked the plan while 25% did not, and 58% of parents supported the idea while 23% did not. Thirty percent of non-parent, non-staff residents agreed to a new pool while 49% did not.

The School Board instead included $2 million of renovations in the referendum.

The 50-year-old pool that officials agree is at the end of its lifespan has been temporarily shut down several times due to a variety of maintenance issues the past several years.

Despite its age and condition, the pool is a popular spot, especially during summer. The bulk of summer school registrations include swim lessons.

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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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