status of VFW Pool
Word travels fast around our little city, so within a couple of days, we had all heard about what happened at VFW Pool in August. After city staff emptied the pool at the end of the season, the concrete deck around the diving well lifted up out of the ground and was significantly damaged. A preliminary estimate showed that it may cost upwards of $800,000 to repair. Here are some photos that I took on August 28:
The day I took those pictures, I was briefly interviewed for a news story by Emily Matesic at WBAY Channel 2. She asked me about what the upcoming referendum means in the context of this situation. After seeing the news story, a friend pointed out to me that I seemed to be speaking cautiously about what the referendum means. Well, I was. It’s important to understand the wording of the referendum and what it means. So I’ve addressed that in a separate article about the referendum.
This issue was discussed at the September 20, 2018 Park Board meeting (I’m not on the Park Board), and they decided to do nothing right now about the pool damage, mostly because of the pending referendum that will be on our November 6 ballot. They discussed the real possibility that there will be no VFW Pool in 2019.
Each year in November, we approve the mayor’s budget for the following year. So a month or two before that, we meet for a few hours in a budget review session with the entire city council and all department heads to get a preliminary look at it. This session allows the mayor to get a sense of where everyone is at on the budget and helps to keep us on track to approve it in a timely manner. This year, we held that budget review session just two days ago, on Wednesday, October 3. In a nutshell, our 2019 budget has no funding to repair or operate VFW pool.
So, there will be no VFW Pool in 2019 (though it won’t be definite until we actually vote on the budget next month). As for the future, I will not be in favor of making any repairs to that pool, ever. The pool opened in 1958. There were renovations about 30 years ago. It’s 60 years old, it has to go.
At the above-mentioned Park Board meeting, there was also a brief discussion about having a shuttle in 2019 to take kids from VFW Park to Legion Park for swimming lessons (no decision was made). I will not be in favor of this either. We just can’t be spending our tax dollars to shuttle people around town to various activities. I understand that this is somewhat sentimental and I’m not trying to sound harsh. But we’ve got to be good stewards of our tax dollars. We have a lot going on in various parts of our city. If you want to ice skate, you have to figure out how to get to the ice center. If you want to play disc golf, you have to figure out how to get to Legion Park. If you want to use the riverwalk, you have to figure out how to get to Voyageur Park. If you want to see the Memorial Day Parade, you have to figure out how to get downtown. If you’re going to school, you have to figure out how to get to school. No matter what you want to do in our city, some people will be able to walk, some will ride bikes, some will take the city bus, and some will take vehicles. To be clear, if there is some option perhaps offered by the Green Bay Metro bus service and paid for by users, then that’s certainly fine. Fortunately, we’ve got 7+ months of notice that there will be no VFW Pool in 2019. So please start making plans.