LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - It's a bit cold to be talking about swimming pools, but after years of planning, construction on a new Memorial Pool in La Crosse is underway.
City officials made a splash with an official groundbreaking on the three-year project Monday.
The city recently approved the $3 million project. City officials said places like this are essential to the growth of La Crosse's neighborhoods.
"It was a great pool in the heart of the city that meant a lot to a lot of people," said Kate Escher, Memorial Pool campaign spokeswoman.
Since the pool closed its gates back in 2015 the facility has deteriorated.
"It's been hard to watch the decline," Escher said.
Escher has been the voice of a campaign that has been trying to bring back this community asset.
"I guess I never realized how long and how much study and how much patience we would all have to have for this day to come," Escher said.
The common council approved the project in October, allocating $1.79 million including $500,000 in expected donations.That is on top of the $1.47 million already set aside.
The project total was $400,000 under budget and won't affect the 2019 tax rate.
"We are excited about getting people in this facility to enjoy it and splash play and laugh," said La Crosse Neighborhood President Jacob Sciammas.
Despite the numerous projects city officials are trying to accomplish, they were able to find a way to make it possible.
"Roads need to be funded, libraries need to be open, convention centers need to be built. How do we do it all? The community's role in this is really essential and we are happy to see that we can do it together," Sciammas said.
He said leaving places like this behind creates an unstable future for the city.
"What kind of message does it send to people in this community? Who would want to move here? Who would want to relocate here or even stay here?" Sciammas said.
Construction has now begun to turn this current city crater back into a place people can appreciate.
"The city of La Crosse doesn't let things die," Escher said. "They make them come back and better than ever so I think it's going to be an exciting thing for people to see next summer."
City officials said they have already raised $100,000 of the $500,000 needed in private donations.
City officials said they expect the pool to be completed by May of next year.
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