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     January 10, 2019      #93-10 PB1 0
Byron closes wading pool, community center on
Byron closes wading pool, community center on horizon?

Gretta Becay

BYRON — Byron City Council members voted unanimously Tuesday to close the city’s wading pool until it can be brought up to standards set by the Americans with Disabilities Act. That would involve installing a lift specifically for the wading pool.

Last summer, a team of inspectors from Burbach Aquatics, of Platteville, Wis., inspected the Byron swimming pool. Their report was presented to council members Tuesday during the council’s first meeting of the year.

Staff members reviewed the pool report and recommended that the wading pool be closed.

Maintenance personnel will repair or replace the items recommended by the pool inspectors, including the “… pool drains, chemical storage, fencing and eye wash stations,” city staff said.

The pool is 31 years old.

For several years, Byron council members have discussed the feasibility of building a new pool.

During the winter of 2013, pipes around the pool froze and the pool was closed the entire next summer. The city’s insurance ultimately paid for the repairs, and the pool re-opened in 2014.

That year, a volunteer pool committee presented a proposal for a new aquatic center with a price tag of about $5 million.

That proposal would have required a public vote, but plans for a referendum never got off the ground.

Coincidentally, during the past few years, a group of volunteers has approached the council about building a library/community center.

“Hats off to that committee,” council member Scott Johnson said.

After lengthy discussion during Tuesday’s meeting, council members decided to hold a workshop to discuss building a community complex that could include meeting rooms, a library, an indoor pool and other recreational spaces such as volleyball or basketball courts.

Such an ambitious project might be far in the future, but planning such a complex should start now, council member Steven Cook said. The city needs to plan for more amenities for the long term, he said.

“In 20 years, the city could be pushing 10,000 in population,” he remarked. “We have to look at the bigger picture.”

Council member Dan Mesenburg said that a combination of a community center, library and pool could fulfill the city’s needs at one location. He suggested a workshop be scheduled to begin the planning process.

Mesenburg said community input will be gathered to help with the vision, and he suggested a 501C3 entity be formed to begin collecting donations for the enterprise.

“If they had $1 million, voters would vote for this,” he said.

The library committee has already begun collecting funds toward such a facility.

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