What’s making news in Minneapolis, reported by the Star Tribune’s team of city reporters. Send news tips to baird.helgeson@startribune.com.

Park Board keeps Phillips pool alive

Posted by: Steve Brandt under People and neighborhoods, Politics and government Updated: August 6, 2014 - 6:48 PM

The proposed reopening of the pool at Phillips Community Center is alive for at least another half-year while the Minneapolis park system and a nonprofit group of swimming boosters seek additional money to pay for it.

A proposal setting new deadlines at the end of February for raising construction and operating money was approved by the Park Board Tuesday on a 7-2 vote.  The approval followed a failed proposal by Commissioner Anita Tabb to delay approval for two weeks while park staff would have come up with a proposal to improve swim lessons citywide. That drew only two votes.

So far a fundraising effort led earlier by nonprofit Minneapolis Swims has generated $2.2. But the most basic option of renovating the empty six-lane pool inside the center and adding an instructional pool is estimated to cost $2.8 million.

The approval followed a spirited debate that pitted advocates for equity in swimming opportunities, particularly those in high-poverty neighborhoods, against those who warned that a pool would pose a further operating drain on the Park Board's budget. "We can't even maintain what we have now," said Commissioner Annie Young, who nevertheless voted for the new proposal.

An upset State Rep. Karen Clark, who lives blocks from the pool, warned the board against delaying the pool to develop a broader swim plan, arguing that the city's legislative delegation would feel betrayed. 

(Phillips Community Center's pool has sat empty for the past several years.)

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