NEWS & VIEWS OF PHILLIPS SINCE 1976
Monday August 21st 2017

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Still Empty, After All These Years!

Olympic size pool built with Model City money in 1974 that’s future is in the throes of budgetary/politico squalor.  The question remains; “Will it all be money down the drain?”.

Olympic size pool built with Model City money in 1974 that’s future is in the throes of budgetary/politico squalor. The question remains; “Will it all be money down the drain?”.

by Robert Albee

City Pages published an Erin Carlyle piece on September 9th in 2009 featuring me standing in an empty pool complaining about the Minneapolis Parks & Recreation Board allowing the Phillips Community Center (PCC) building to close and residents also losing access to the only indoor swimming pool in the community. Although the story was about “redlining” and inequities in Park Board spending allocations, the PCC pool itself still stands empty. This despite the fact that the building itself reopened three years ago.

A non-profit, Minneapolis Swims took the initiative and agreed with the Park Board, that it would raise the necessary capital to rebuild the pool and oversee its operations in service to the community. During the next few years, various proposals were assembled suggesting three options, ranging from a $2.5 million rebuild to a $8.5 million total redevelopment that would include two pools and a specialized diving well.

At its July, 16th meeting, the Administration & Finance Committee of the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board (MPRB) voted to approve Resolution 2014-250 which read: “Resolution Authorizing Actions to Proceed with Development of the Phillips Community Center Aquatic Facility with the Intention the the MPRB Will Construct and Operate the Facility Upon the Commitment and Board of Commissioners Acceptance of Necessary Capital Funds by March 31, 2015.” The significance of this approved motion is that the Park Board has moved toward actually operating the swimming pool upon completion of construction, instead of contracting with Minneapolis Swims so handle the daily operations.

Discussion prior to the vote demonstrated that there is still wide division on the part of both Board Members and Park Board staff as to the viability of the pool. With requirements that such a facility be managed for the next twenty years after opening to the public, several Board members feared that it would become a drain of resources and given the target population, become unable to be financially sustained. Although the proposals suggested contracted facility usage to Augsburg College and the Minneapolis Public Schools, other Board members feared that it could be built and then in order to manage the facility, there would be little time made available to the actual neighborhood residents and stakeholders for whom the facility is being rebuilt. The committee approval still must go before the full MPRB for approval.

Now is the time for the four neighborhoods of the Phillips Community to convene a series of meetings in conjunction with Minneapolis Swims and other interested parties to better address strategies that could make it more possible to sustain the operations of a aquatic facility in the Phillips Community Center. This would entail both a financial commitment and an effort to assure sufficient usage to keep the facility operating in the black.

The big empty pool at the Phillips Community Center is a strong reminder that a great deal of hard work and good will must be expended before water will enable the joy of splashing about by children, adults, elders and competitive swimmers that we have been holding out hope for these many years! Let’s get busy, all of us!

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