Wednesday July 18th 2018

Keep citizen journalism alive!



Ninety minutes of good engagement

Last chance to meet with the architect on the Phillips Aquatic Center, MONDAY, Sept. 14, 6:30 PM, 2nd floor at the Phillips Community Center.

Steve Wohlford and Linda McCracken-Hunt from STUDIO FIVE Architects listening to opinions about the Aquatic Center and explaining the process.

Steve Wohlford and Linda McCracken-Hunt from STUDIO FIVE Architects listening to opinions about the Aquatic Center and explaining the process.

August 24th, on short public notice, Minneapolis Parks & Recreation Board (MPRB) conducted the first of two scheduled Community Engagement meetings regarding the design of the Phillips Aquatics Center. Originally scheduled at the Phillips Community Center’s Conference Room A, the attendance warranted a last-minute change to the larger space in the cafeteria.

Representing the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board was Cliff Swenson, Director, Design & Project Management and Dana Murdoch, Design Project Management, as well as Commissioners Scott Vreeland and Meg Forney.

The architect/design firm selected by the MPRB to come up with a final design is Studio Five architects, with Linda McCracken, lead principal of the firm, heading this project. Joining her tonight was Steve Wohlford, project architect, and Tom Schafer of USAquatics, who has been hired by Studio Five to work with them on this project.

As the meeting began and people around the room introduced themselves, it was clear that, while there were only 20 people in the room, it was a diverse gathering representing many different interest groups. For example, Minneapolis Public School (MPS)Board Member Siad Ali was there representing the interests of MPS, but was also present as a local resident, father and Somali, interested to hear plans for single- gender swimming.

Joanna Daggett was there as a youth worker, interested in issues of access and features for youth, as well as a tri-athlete inquiring about early hours for masters swimming.

Bob Albee, was there as a neighborhood advocate, a building tenant and a vocal defender of the “silver sneaker set.”

This is just a sampling of the diversity present, and how each person seemed to be looking at this project through a couple of different lenses.

It is safe to say that, the interests of the following groups were discussed: East Phillips, Midtown, Ventura Village, Hispanic, Somali, Native American, Waite House, neighborhood children, school children, seniors, disabled, transgender, large families, early risers, nighttime swimmers, people against using the pool as a revenue source, solar energy advocates, open swim proponents, pro-windows, pro-concession stand, pro-common entrance, pro-replace meeting rooms and more!

The proud folks of Phillips are not known for timid participation, and tonight was no exception! The MPRB and Studio Five got a lot of feedback tonight. It will be really interesting to see how that manifests itself in the building’s final design.

From my perspective, representing Minneapolis Swims and the interests of many donors, it sounds like the basic concept of the 6 lane/4 lane 2 pool x 25 yard each configuration is safe, and that we can count on 10 lanes to always have available to ensure community access, consistent learn-to-swim programming, and enough revenue generation — through lane sharing with MPS, the YWCA or Augsburg College — that the Center can not only be equitable and accessible, but also sustainable so that our children and grandchildren can enjoy the legacy we are creating together today.

This is a very important and exciting time in the shaping of the form and function of this facility. I encourage all who wish to see first-hand how the plans are developing, or to have their voices heard, to attend the next and final Community Engagement meeting on September 14th at 6:30 PM, 2nd floor at the Phillips Community Center.

Denny Bennett is President of Minneapolis Swims

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