Letter: Outdoor pool group seeks community feedback
By Mike Smith, Jay Larson, Sally Darling and Chad Davis, Citizens Pooling Together, Worthington
Citizens Pooling Together continues to work towards a large outdoor pool for the people of Worthington. We thought we were making positive progress until we read the Daily Globe article on Aug. 13. Prior to that, we thought we were part of a collaborative effort working on the outdoor pool issue.
Members of the citizen pool committee, the YMCA and the city council met twice over the summer to collaborate on how to get a large outdoor pool built behind the YMCA. We all agreed that collaboration and a positive attitude was the best way to meet the needs of the citizens of Worthington. A three-hour work session was held with a representative of the U.S. Aquatics Association. Again the discussions were positive, and we were told that we would be notified when the council was going to address the issue of funding the study.
We were not notified. As a result, we didn’t get a chance to voice our opinion about the council’s decision to have the citizens pay one-half of the study. We don’t see splitting the cost of the study as a fair compromise, as the taxpayers would already be funding the council’s portion through your taxes. Fundraising would mean asking those same citizens to pay a second time for the same study. How is that fair? Where is the precedence to have a citizen group fundraise for a study regarding a city issue?
Today we find ourselves asking, where does the money come from to do all these studies? Surely there had to be a firm hired to study the need for a new fire hall, events center, senior center and the proposed athletic complex. We don’t recall private groups doing any fundraising to get those plans drawn up. The mayor also made comments such as “I’m against spending taxpayers’ money on this study. We have gone above and beyond”; “I think the city of Worthington has done its part”; and “I’m sorry if we can’t have everything. It is what it is.” That’s a far cry from the tone he set at the June meeting. It may be what it is, but it’s not what the people want.
Our initial petition of over 500 signatures clearly shows the need for a large outdoor pool. When the council was presented with the petition in February, its members said they welcomed that level of citizen input — yet they won’t fund the study to help make it a reality. Ron Wood said at the current council meeting, “I’m fearful we are going to raise expectations and then we are going to be the bad people.” That comment implies that at least some of the council members have no intention of seeing a new outdoor pool built.
We represent citizens of the community who would like a large outdoor pool for their families to swim at. These are families who are paying taxes and want a place to go in the summer with their kids. We all saw the article in the paper the second week of July telling us it was not safe to swim in the lake due to the algae bloom. We need to think of how to best serve these families and not asking them to pay twice for an aquatics study.
We have heard of so many families that went to Lakefield, Sibley, and Pipestone this summer to swim at their pools and had wonderful experiences. It seems such a shame to tell the citizens of Worthington that this is your only option. It seems a direct contrast to the city slogan we hear on the radio telling us to shop locally and invest dollars in our community. According to those ads, each dollar spent locally generates more city revenue. Encouraging families in Worthington to go out of town means dollars going to other communities.
As a committee, we continue to discuss where to go from here. We would love to see a new pool happen, but we are not willing to have taxpayers pay twice to fund a study to see the options. We need people to give us feedback on our Facebook page as to the direction we should take knowing the attitudes of the current city administration. Like us on Facebook at New Outdoor Pool for the City of Worthington