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Lakefield to bond for pool repairs

LAKEFIELD -- For many years, the municipal swimming pool in Lakefield has been a source of community pride.

In March, residents will need to make an important decision regarding its future.

The Lakefield City Council has placed a referendum on the ballot for March 30 asking whether property taxes should be raised to construct an entirely new pool. The future of the pool will hinge on bonding vote, City Administrative Clerk Kelly Rasche said Thursday.

"Our choice is the pool closes because we can't operate the pool in the condition it's in for more than one year, or we can bring it back to the voters in six months," she said.

According to estimates, a residence valued at $75,000 would see a tax increase of about $123 per year over the 20-year term of the proposed bond. Rasche stressed, however, that the city continues to work with its bonding company, and the actual cost to residents has yet to be determined.

Lakefield leaders have long discussed pool issues. It has long been established that the pool requires major repairs to remain usable.

At a special city council meeting last week, Thomas Schaffer of USAquatics reported the pool suffers from severe deficiencies including problems with the deeper portion of the pool area, stairways within the pool and concrete issues. The concrete is deteriorated to the point that it will no longer hold paint, Schaffer said.

There is a leak in the pool, Rasche said Thursday, that would require "bare minimum" spending of $900,000 to repair to the point of bringing the facility to code. The location of the leak is still undiscovered, she added.

Until now, Rasche said, "I think there was the misconception that we can just fix the pool because it does have a leak. But we can't just fix it."

City leaders will now determine a plan to "get the facts out as much as possible" about the bonding plan, Rasche said. Public hearings may be scheduled in the future.

Doug Wolter

Doug Wolter is the Daily Globe sports editor. He served as sports reporter, then sports editor, news editor and finally managing editor at the Daily Globe for 22 years before leaving for seven years to work as night news editor at the Mankato Free Press in Mankato. Doug now lives in Worthington with his wife, Sandy. They have three children and seven grandchildren. Doug, retired after a lengthy career in fast-pitch softball, enjoys reading, strumming his acoustic guitar and hanging around his grandchildren. He also writes books on fiction. Two of his stories, "The Genuine One" and "The Old Man in Section 129" have been distributed through a national publisher.

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