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Fighting for a Pool in Sussex

For one Sussex woman, a community pool seems like the obvious next development for the rapidly growing village. But village officials say they haven't seen much interest among residents.

Growing up in Waukesha, Ann Moore recalls biking to the community pool during hot summers and it having a strong sense of community in town.

Now a longtime resident of Sussex with two young children, Moore thinks it's time the village created that same sense of community by building a pool here. After catching wind of a at , she decided to voice her opinion at a Village Board meeting.

“When I went to the board in August, I just wanted to start the conversation,” Moore said. “They’re looking to do this huge renovation at the Village Park, and my question was, ‘Why isn’t there a pool?’ They said they didn’t know how much a public pool would even cost. I got annoyed.”

In the new plans for the park, there's even a space next to the proposed splash pad described as "future amenity space" near the southwest corner of the park. It's the perfect size for a pool.

Doing some research

After returning from the meeting and feeling like she had hit a brick wall, Moore decided not to quit. She began independently researching the costs associated with building a public pool by calling parks and recreation directors in neighboring communities.

First, Moore talked with someone in Waukesha about costs of operation and revenue. Then she called up a contact in Germantown about their tedious process from failed referendums to a $4 million indoor-outdoor public pool. Moore even contacted a commercial banker to talk about possible tax increases.

“I found out that a basic rectangular pool runs around $1 million,” Moore said. “But the typical aquatic center most places have now days is about $3 million. I understand that’s a pretty big undertaking, especially with the cost of operation, but what population does Sussex need to be at to reach the tipping point?”

According to the 2010 census, the Village of Sussex has more than in the last 20 years, now totaling 10,518 people. But is there support for a pool in the village? It's tough to gauge, but only six people so far have “liked” the Facebook page dedicated to getting a pool in Sussex.

Money is the key issue

Population, however, is not a factor when it comes to having a pool, as far as Sussex officials are concerned. Village Administrator Jeremy Smith says the decision really comes down to cash.

“The community needs to actually want to pay for it, and we have not heard that sentiment from the overall community,” he said. “I think there’s some real challenges related to financing and the tax implications of operating a pool.”

Smith said it’s not the cost of the actual pool that’s a problem, but the cost of staffing and maintaining it. He’s sure the residents passionate about the public pool could gather donations for the initial construction, but the ongoing cost would be the real burden.

“I know you can make money through entry fees and concessions, but it doesn’t even come close to what it costs to operate a public pool,” Smith said. “I think the Village Board gave (Moore) some directions about what she needs to do next, but it’ll need to be a grassroots effort for this to be a possibility in Sussex.”

While Smith mentioned as a suitable and safe place for people to swim, Moore says it’s not the same as a community pool in regards to safety.

However, Moore may have to continue waiting for some time. After multiple failed referendums vying to build an indoor pool at , it appears Smith’s assessment of a community uninterested in a pool has been put to the test before.

Jack Burke October 06, 2011 at 10:47 PM
It's a cheap shot because there are people--real people who live in this community--who think this is important. And your first comment is all they want to do is "escape their responsibilities." And as for golf, the county as three public courses. Should they be shut down? Who says a pool would be free? Waukesha has two and they charge.
Craig October 06, 2011 at 11:58 PM
I am so mean spirited and I am not even a Republican...and that's a fact Jack. I based my comment on real ife experience- something you must not know Jack about. As for escaping responsibilities- put a kid in a pool and they do not interrupt your coffee clutch. Therefore you are easily engrossed in conversation, and may think you are watching the kid when in fact- they are floating at the bottom.
Kelly October 07, 2011 at 03:40 AM
What makes you think that parents would not be watching their child? You must not have any children, because most (and yes, I say most) parents would not let their child out if their sight. And do you think parents are going to let their children go in the water by themselves if they can't swim, or don't have a floatation device on? Sounds like you are just trying to stir the pot. Again, if it would be affordable, I think a community pool is a great asset to the community. And like someone posted earlier, it would give jobs to some local residents.
Renee October 07, 2011 at 04:00 AM
The notion of having no safety precautions when operating a swimming pool is ludicrous. Having Lifeguards on duty as well as other safety precautions, would have to be a part of the budget. There is fear-mongering about one personal account of a tragic incident being posted that is clouding the issue. To the Village of Sussex residents; Do you realize how many pools there are in the area? Not a whole lot. We have multiple swim teams and clubs that are in dire need of space for their teams to practice, train, and even host meets. Yes, as a mom of a High School (who, BTW is on the Menomonee Falls/Hamilton co-op team) and Club Swimmer, you may think I'm biased. However, with the right pool size and amenities, the Village could be getting revenue by renting the facility to these teams/clubs. Has anyone on the Village Board (or anyone who is willing to do this) thought of maybe asking some of your bigger businesses about contributing to this? You keep on touting about tax payer expenses like that is your only avenue.
Craig October 08, 2011 at 12:02 AM
Now if lifeguards are provided that adds another cost: Liability insurance. Not only would Sussex need the coverage, but also the County. If renting out the pool was profitable, it would be done by private enterprise. Seems to me that a small group of liberals want another freebie- while making everyone pay for that freebie. Given the current economy, one has to wonder how this topic can even be seriously discussed.

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