By Gail Rosenblum

The Phillips Community Center pool is back in the swim.

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board voted Wednesday, 6 to 1, to authorize staff to apply for the Youth Sports Grant for the pool, in the amount of $325,000. The only no vote was cast by Anita Tabb. Park Board President John Erwin was out of town.

The pool, championed by Minneapolis Swims, a nonprofit organization providing swimming lessons and outdoor recreation for inner-city kids, was suddenly in peril, despite being awarded $1.75 million for reconstruction as part of Gov. Dayton's $566 million bonding bill.

To get those dollars, MPRB was required to secure a $350,000 matching grant from the Hennepin County Youth Sports Commission. At a Sept. 19 meeting of the Park Board's Planning Committee, members voted 2-2 to approve the grant's submission. (One member was absent). A majority was needed to carry the vote.  Dissenters were swayed by the belief that operating costs would be close to $650,000 annually. At Wednesday night’s meeting, the full board voted to approve the grant application, with three caveats.

The Park Board and Minneapolis Swims must agree on the conceptual design, project budget and development for Phase I; Minneapolis Swims and the Park Board must approve a business plan for operation of the facility; and the Park Board must approve a modified fundraising agreement with Minneapolis Swims.

Board member Bob Fine pointed out that a better estimate of annual operating expenses was around $174,000, which includes $30,000 for future capital. The initial numbers given included huge programming costs in excess of $400,000 which Fine said, is not realistic. Fine was happy with the outcome. “This is an existing pool in a building used for so many community endeavors,” he said.