Cottage Grove municipal pool removed; building future unknown
After sitting dormant for three summers, the Cottage Grove municipal pool was opened last week, but to a construction crew that will demolish the pool and fill the space with dirt to address safety concerns.
The public pool, which had long shown its age prior to demolition, closed in 2011 after more than 50 years of operation. However, with annual losses hovering above $50,000 throughout the last several years and no room for upgrades or renovations, combined with dwindling attendance numbers, the city closed the pool.
Zac Dockter, director of the Cottage Grove Parks and Recreation Department, said lingering safety concerns around the empty pool prompted him to suggest demolition.
“The work should be complete within a couple weeks,” Dockter said. “It will be backfilled and seeded.”
Demolition was on the city’s capital improvement project list for 2015. However, during a November 2013 CIP planning workshop, Dockter emphasized that the empty pool was a safety hazard.
“There is just no use for it,” he told the City Council.
The roughly $20,000 demolition project will be paid for with dedicated park improvement funds.
City Administrator Ryan Schroeder said the future green space is not intended to be used as a park.
“When it’s seeded it will look just like anybody’s backyard,” he said. “It’s not going to be developed as a park use because that part of town already has a lot of little pocket parks and there doesn’t need to be another one.”
Meanwhile, the building on site is expected to remain until a more firm plan can be created, Dockter said. The building currently houses athletic equipment and other parks department items.
“That (storage) use still exists and if we convert that building into something we’ll have to find other locations to store the equipment,” Schroeder said. “So for right now it serves a useful purpose.”
Over the next year, Dockter said the city will re-evaluate a study conducted in 2011 that outlined several possibilities for reuse of the property. Schroeder said the study helped the city draft two parks referendum questions that appeared on the ballot in the 2012 election.
The parks referendum asked whether to borrow $6.5 million to build an aquatic center or borrow $7 million to turn the vacant pool into an indoor/outdoor play center.
Voters turned down the proposed tax increase and nothing was done with the vacant property.
Had the referendum passed, Schroeder said he was confident the building would be an indoor playground today.
“The goal will be to clear out the interior (of the building) over the coming months,” Dockter said. “But for now, the building will remain as is.”