The Lakeville task force also proposed upgrades for another pool.
The Lakeville School District should build a new swimming pool and make major upgrades to another -- and local voters should raise their taxes to foot most of the bill.
That's the upshot of a recommendation made to the school board Tuesday night by a community task force that was asked to study possible improvements to the district's two pools.
The task force has been meeting since August, but swimmers in Lakeville have complained for years that the existing pools are inadequate and overcrowded.
To solve the problem, the task force said the district should hold a bond referendum in the spring of 2011 to build a third pool at Century Middle School that could cost between $6.3 million and $7.3 million. This year, the district should also make an estimated $2.3 million in upgrades to a pool at Kenwood Trail Middle School, adding a diving well and more seating, the group said.
The push for a referendum came as no surprise to school board chairwoman Judy Keliher, who said swimming advocates have called for a vote in previous discussions about the pools. "It's like it's come full circle," she said.
The school board, which will discuss the proposal at a meeting on Jan. 19, will have to consider whether it can afford major pool upgrades anytime soon. Money is tight for many voters, and the district is cutting millions from its own budget.
The timing may not be great, but as Keliher said, "It's kind of like having a baby. When is a good time?"
Swimmers and their friends say they'll pitch in, setting a fundraising goal of $1 million for the project. The South Metro STORM Swim Club has also said it would be willing to pay higher fees to rent the pools, said school board member Bob Erickson, who served on the task force.
In addition to Erickson, the task force included a mix of swimmers and landlubbers, as well as representatives from the business community and city government.
The district's existing pools, located at two of its three middle schools, are used for gym classes, community lessons, practices and competitions.
Century Middle School doesn't have a pool at all, which means students can't learn to swim or get water safety training there.
One pool, at McGuire Middle School, is too shallow for swim meets. The other, at Kenwood Trail, is deep enough for competitions but doesn't have a diving well.
As a result, high school competitions in Lakeville are split between the two pools, with swimming events at one and diving at the other. It's an awkward setup, said Erickson, who said he watched students march outside in bitterly cold weather, dripping wet, to switch venues during a recent meet.
Overcrowding is also a problem, said Melissa McMahon, a STORM member and a senior on the Lakeville South High School swim team. In lanes that are best suited to four or six swimmers, she said, "We have up to 14 people in a lane, which makes it impossible to exercise."
Sarah Lemagie • 952-882-9016