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home : news : news June 28, 2016

1/31/2014 8:23:00 AM
$4.25 million pool vote discussed

by Ken Haggerty

About eight citizens turned out on January 21 for the first of two scheduled public informational meetings on a city of Cannon Falls March 3 referendum on whether or not to bond for up to $4.25 million dollars for a new aquatics center.

A representative of US Aquatics, the consulting firm which helped develop the plan, Greg Anderson, the city's consulting engineer from SEH, two representatives of Bossardt, which was the construction management firm on the city's library project, and city public works chief Tom Bergeson attempted to answer some questions.

Among the concerns and questions raised:

• Is it possible to build a smaller, less expensive facility?

The US Aquatics consultant said in meeting with a committee of area residents on local needs and in working with other similar sized communities on projects that he thought this was a good sized project.

• Is it possible to defer some of the slide features until later?

The consultant said some pieces of the project could be bid as alternative options. Local fundraising could be used to find donors for some of these options.

• Doesn't an indoor facility that could be used year round and be utilized by the school for a swim team make more sense?

The consultant said an indoor facility is twice as expensive to build and has much higher upkeep costs.

• Is there some way to bring in participation from surrounding Townships or private donors?

Bergeson said the sense during planning was that the local donation base had already been hit up pretty hard by the library and hospital projects. Bergeson said the city could charge non-resident users a higher use fee on the pool, as it currently does.

Answers to other questions were unclear or left unanswered:

• Are the revenue numbers projected realistic with historical Cannon Falls attendance? Is 90 open days a year a good number for Cannon Falls historically?

Can we expect attendance, revenue, and maintenance costs to stay as projected as we get out toward year twenty of the bond?

• Can't a fix-up of the weak concrete areas and a clean-up of the current bath house be accomplished for a portion of an all new facility?

• Can't some handicapped parking spaces be added up by the pool rather than raising the level of the entire parking lot?

• Why do estimated consulting, management and engineering fees total about $700,000 or about 17 percent?

• Is the Red Wing facility losing $200,000 to $300,000 per year as some people have reported?

• Why do the predicted tax impacts not seem to go up on a consistent basis?

• Can the city take on more debt with a number of road projects being paid for, more road projects planned and unknown annexation and road costs on the south end around the new interchange and hospital?

• Can local residents and businesses handle more tax burden with recent hikes to sewer, water and storm water bills as well as increased property taxes?

• Are city revenues from the Invenergy gas plant locked in for the future? Would Invenergy get a break on paying for their share of this project?

• What are total costs of the project with interest and bond salesmen fees?

The second informational meeting is set for February 18 at 5:30 p.m. at city hall.

Detailed information on the referendum and the pool study is available at the city's website: www.cannonfallsmn.gov.

Judy Conway said a Vote Yes committee has been formed and if anyone is interested in working on that to contact her. The committee had an informational display set up at the mini-golf tournament at the elementary school.

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