Community members ask city council to update Rochester public pools

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(ABC 6 News) – When school is out, kids and families head to the swimming pool, but some people from Rochester, MN drive to Kasson or Stewartville rather than using the public pools in the Med City.

Now, Rochester Swimming is hoping to persuade the city council to update the pools.

When it was built in the 1930s, the Soldier’s Field swimming pool was the largest pool in the state. The Silver Lake pool was built in the late 1950s, nearly 70 years ago.

Flash forward to today, some say these pools lack favorable amenities for swimmers, and Rochester Swimming Inc. board member Pat Carroll is trying to change that.

“We have pools that are 70-plus years old. They’re cracking, they’re leaking water,” says Carroll. “We have one small feature over here, the water slide…But it’s nothing like what the other towns have.” Additionally, Carroll says the current size of the two pools is not sufficient for the population of Rochester.

Former swimming coach Tim Firstbrook says a quality public pool is important when teaching people how to swim.

“Swimming is a life skill that everyone should have so that they can be water safe whether it’s in a pool, river, or lake,” says Firstbrook. “Beyond being water safe, there are programs such as competitive swimming, diving, and synchronized swimming.”

Carroll and Firstbrook say they would like to see Rochester pools hold larger capacities for swimmers, more lap lanes for competitions and swimming lessons, and new amenities such as lazy rivers, or splash pads.

The Rochester city council is working on the city budget for 2023, and both Carroll and Firstbrook want to make sure that updating the pools is on the agenda.

“We’re finding out that the public has to get involved, tell the city commissioners, the park department, the park board, the mayor what to do,” says Carroll. “We want people to email, call city officials and say we want nicer pools.”

ABC 6 reached out to city council members about this, and not yet responded. Rochester Parks and Recreation would not go on camera but said they are presenting master plan updates on both pools to the city council on September 19th.