by Dennis Dalman
Should cities build swimming pools? Or have pools gone the way of the horse and buggy?
Those are the questions that will be debated starting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 24 at Sartell City Hall. Everyone is invited to the free debate, which will explore the pros and cons of the following question: “Does it make sense for a city to build and support an outdoor public pool?”
The “pool debate” will be the third of “Sartell Says” debates, which are produced and moderated by Sartell resident Patty Candella. The first debate was about whether or not to allow the raising of chickens in residential yards. The second explored the dangers of head injuries caused by football and other sports.
The pool debate is a timely one because the Sartell City Council has been pondering if and when an aquatic facility (swimming pond or pool) is feasible in Pinecone Central Park. There are also plans for a regional aquatics center in St. Cloud, to be built with half-cent sales-tax funds.
“We hosted a community forum at our home recently,” Candella said, “and the ubiquitous topic was a community pool. Most adults can remember fondly and vividly the community pool of their youth. Why did they go away? Did they just not make sense anymore? Should we bring them back? Are they expensive? Do municipalities owe it to their citizens to teach them to swim? So I felt like we needed a way to explore this topic in a thoughtful, friendly and open manner.”
Audience members at the debate will have a chance to ask panelists questions.
The panelists will be the following:
David Wall, St. Cloud State University professor.
Dan Eckberg, head swimming and diving coach at the College of St. Benedict.
Bill Glahn, former commerce commissioner for the Gov. Tim Pawlenty administration.
Jim Moser, retired director of parks and recreation for the City of Foley.
In a press release, Candella wrote:
“‘I am bored; there’s nothing to do!’ Is there a parent alive who hasn’t endured that question? And is there a parent who, in that moment, hasn’t thought, ‘If only we had a pool!’
“There are plenty of lakes, rivers and creeks in central Minnesota, but very few community pools. In many cities across the country, the community pool has become a rare commodity, with adults waxing nostalgic about the pools of their youth. City governments, like St. Cloud, have closed pools in favor of splash pads, but that hasn’t quelled demand for an outdoor pool.”
All of those questions, Candella said, are what prompted her to make pools the topic of her next “Sartell Says” debate.