Rochester City Council votes to reopen Silver Lake Pool for one season

Miguel Octavio
Updated: May 03, 2021 10:52 PM
Created: May 03, 2021 10:45 PM

(ABC 6 News) - The Rochester City Council voted 7-0 Monday in favor of funding a reopening for Silver Lake Pool for one season. 

City officials are also asking the Park Board for an amount needed to provide free admission to the general public for the season. The Park Board will discuss the council vote Tuesday.

Officials planned to close the pool down for good but there is growing urgency from some in the community to keep it open for the season.

The $95,000 estimate to reopen will come from the city's contingency funds and planned capital spending. This will likely be the last season it's open but people said it's worth one last run.

Summer is almost here and by then, some people hope the Silver Lake Pool will be open.

A petition to reopen it has garnered more than 1,300 signatures as of Monday night.

Reopening would give two outdoor pool options for the more than 100,000 residents living in Rochester but the plan poses challenges. 

"It is still 62 years old," Paul Widman, Rochester Parks and Recreation director said. "It needs a lot of updates."

Widman said there is a risk the pool may not last through the season due to aging infrastructure and other mechanical needs. Both the Silver Lake Pool and the Soldiers Field Pool closed last summer due to COVID-19.

"I was born the same year the pool was built in 1959," Shaun Palmer, Rochester City Council Member said. 

Palmer, who represents Ward 5 where the pool sits, said reopening is worth a try because of growing interest.

"There is a lot of risk but if the pool is gonna be too costly to open, people understand that it won't," Palmer said.

Widman said he's looking long-term at how to fund the future of the pool in relation to the park system plan, along with community feedback. 

"The bigger picture issue, which is how will we re-do one or two new pools, has yet to be determined," Mayor Kim Norton said.

"Where we really need to direct our attention is the future of outdoor pools in Rochester and trying to find a plan to fund what the community would like to see," Widman said.

Park use demand soared last summer after COVID-19 left people with less to do, meaning more to do for park staff. The pandemic also forced budget concerns within the Park Board prompting the $2 million referendum that passed in November. 

"It also has raised the awareness of the investments that need to be made," Widman said. 

Widman said it goes to show much the community values our parks. The Silver Lake Pool is just one example. 

Widman added it's likely the pool will not be open by Memorial Day. 

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