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Practically Speaking

Kyle and her husband moved to Brookfield in 1986. She became active in local politics and started blogging in 2004. Her focus is primarily on local issues but often includes state and national topics, too. Kyle looks at things from the taxpayers' perspective in a creative, yet down to earth way, addressing them from a practical point of view.

Testing the waters: VK, McCain, and Elmbrook Swim Club

Elmbrook, High Schools, Sports, TAXES

Unsure about how an idea will go over? Test the waters!

I saw it happen at the June 9th Plan Commission meeting with AJS'  Percheron Square (VK). Their first plan came in with higher density and so AJS requested a PDD. It passed easily. (Sad part was, the more realistic plan--without the underground office parking--was not that much larger than the density already designated for.) Then, shortly after that approval, Community Watch (June 16) reported,

Property owner V.K. Development Corp. has requested a delay in the city's approval process for the proposed development, known as Percheron Square. The Common Council was to consider the site plan at its Tuesday meeting. But Ajay Kuttemperoor, V.K. Development president, asked the council to delay that action because of an inquiry from a prospective buyer of a portion of the site. That could result in changes to the proposal, Kuttemperoor said today.

To me that says, AJS was just testing the waters at the first plan commission meeting.

John McCain's campaign has also been testing the waters. They have been dropping running mate names like Pawlenty, waiting for a reaction. Testing the waters is an easy way to judge public acceptance.

Now the Elmbrook Swim Club is again testing the waters with their additional competition pool proposal.

The swim club in 2004 offered to raise $1 million to add lanes to one high school pool. Last fall the club called for expanding one pool to 10 lanes and pledged to help fund it.

The club must have thought those proposals were accepted fairly well, because now they have upped the ante. (My emphasis)  

But this week club officials presented a new plan to district officials: to have two pools at Brookfield Central.

The existing pool would be reduced in size and made shallower for use by physical education classes, community swim lessons and other uses requiring warmer, shallower water.

A new 25 yard-by-25 meter competition pool would be built immediately south of the existing pool. That deeper, colder pool would be used by physical education classes, the community, the swim club, and would host regional and state tournaments. It would be configured to run eight and 10-lane events.

The expansion does not stop there. 

The existing pools seat 300 spectators. The new pool would have 1,500 bleacher seats — slightly less than available at the Waukesha South Natatorium, a 25-yard-by-30 meter pool.

Just how many area schools have a facility like this? Three, if you include Madison.

[Swim coach] Rose said there are few competition pools in the area: Waukesha South, Schroeder Aquatic Center in Brown Deer and University of Wisconsin Madison’s natatorium.

The coach added that, "Holding meets could generate $25,000 in annual revenue for Elmbrook."

How much is this thing going to cost to build? $6 to $8 million!  Of that, Elmbrook taxpayers would pay around half.

Wow! We get a whopping $25,000 a year in fees and only have to spend $4,000,000* or so? (Yes, that was said tongue in cheek.)

What about the hidden costs? 

The annual costs to operate and maintain two pools are unknown.

Pools and their accompanying shower rooms are expensive to operate. They require lots of water, sewer, gas to heat the water, pool chemicals, electricity to run the filters and pumps, heating costs to heat the pool rooms, and don't forget the custodial costs for cleaning 2 pools and the expanded observation deck.

I took a look at the March 24 budget and although there is not a separate line item for pools, I did note the water usage differences between the high schools and other schools.

I may be all wet here (pun intended), but the high schools have about 36% of all Elmbrook students, but they use 53% of the district's water use: $15,682 for grade school and middle school water charges vs. $17,370 for the high schools. I'm thinking some of that disparity is due to the pool and shower use. (Some of that increase would be because of gym class showering, boiler use, and sports field watering too.)

The sewer bills were higher in the high schools too. $31,547 for lower grades, $31,571 for high school water going down the drain.

Now the swim club is proposing another pool. They are thinking of coming up with part of the purchase price. But who is going to pay for the increased utility costs to heat the room, buy the water, heat the water, filter the water, pay the sewer bill, pay the custodian, pay the chemical bill, pay for the lighting of the room, pay for the maintenance of the pool, and pay the custodians to clean the extra pool?

We, the taxpayers would...after that whopping estimated $25,000 a year revenue was deducted.

I think there is a reason there are really only 2 other area competition pools like this. They are EXPENSIVE! Expensive to build and to operate. Interesting that the coach needed to reach out to Madison to find a 3rd one, and that one was at the university level.

Here is an idea. The Elmbrook Swim Club pays for the entire 2nd competition pool, including operation costs. We leave our original pool alone, so then Elmbrook does not need it for phy. ed. purposes. (The school district could be a good sport and donate the land for the completion pool.) Elmbrook schools can then pay the swim club the fees for use of the competition pool. I think we would be cheaper off?   UPDATE: What was I thinking? Elmbrook should be able to use the competition pool for free because we donated the land. We could let the swim club collect the $25,000/year in revenue from other clubs to help compensate them for their expenditure.

True, the Elmbrook Swim Club is just contemplating this idea at this time, but notice that the size, scope, and cost of their project has increased dramatically in just the past 4 years. Another common phrase comes to mind regarding this completion pool project: The Elmbrook Swim Club thinks we should spend money like water!

If you think Elmbrook taxpayers already spend enough on education and sports, contact the school board about this completion pool idea. 

 

*There was no mention of the actual dollar amount the swim club was going to chip in, plus, our cost of the actual pool could be higher if it goes the route of the BC2 Astroturf project.

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