The four-year-old drive to rehab the Phillips Community Center pool and add a teaching pool is now within $417,000 of the estimated $5.4 million cost, thanks to a Minneapolis schools contribution. 

Minneapolis park Superintendent Jayne Miller said she'll bring a plan to the board's July 15 meeting for closing that gap, as directed by the board on April 1.

But Miller said Wednesday night that she doesn't expect to recommend taking out a mortgage against the park headquarters building as part of her gap-closing strategy. She said that the shrinking size of the gap, given the $1.75 million school contribution to the project, makes that less necessary.

Miller also has been hoping to reserve the park district's equity in its headquarters building to borrow against for part of the cost of improvements at two Park Board maintenance facilities in northeast and north Minneapolis. That cost is estimated at $8.8 million.

The school board last month approved providing the funding, contingent on reaching agreement on a school wish list of priorities for using the pool and other sports facilities and programs. The pool commitment was made as the district is facing a multi-million dollar budget deficit.

The district earlier committed $150,000 annually for five years to subsidize pool operations. That and other expected income still leave an estimated $128,000 annual operating gap.

The Park Board voted to accept the school contribution, if an agreement between the park and school boards on athletic facility priority is reached. 

The school district wants scheduling priority at two park-owned ice arenas for hockey, at the Neiman sport complex for baseball, softball and soccer, and at Parade fields for football, soccer and baseball. It also seeks swimming classes for students and certified lifeguards, collaborative programs at the Green Central gym and school, rehabbing Todd Field for Washburn softball, further improvements at Bossen Field by 2018, and better coordination between the two systems.

(Photo above: South goalie Jason Green deflected an Edison shot in this 1990 Minneapolis high school game at Parade Ice Garden. The school district wants priority scheduling at Parade.)