Report recommends against repairing Memorial Pool

City to create Memorial Pool committee to evaluate report

A preliminary report from a city-hired engineering firm recommends against repairing La Crosse’s Memorial Pool.

Memorial Pool, located right next to UW-La Crosse’s campus, is currently empty while crews survey what work needs to be done. The facility has been there for 78 years, and the pool was leaking water with appraisals ranging from the previous estimate of 7,500 to 18,000 gallons a day, as stated by Burbach Aquatics’ June 13 report.

“The mechanicals, ADA accessibility, the showers, the bathroom facilities, pretty much everything is outdated and not up to current codes,” Jay Odegaard, supervisor of La Crosse Parks, Recreation & Forestry said.

The firm’s report estimates the cost of a historic repair for a 25-year lifespan would cost $3.9 million, while completely replacing the entire pool facility would cost $4.4 million.

“You can see by the numbers the price difference between completely redoing the entire pool or renovating everything to bring it up to code really isn’t that much more,” Odegaard said.

The city will create a Memorial Pool committee made up of Council members and others interested to evaluate the report and go over possibilities for the pool’s future.

Some community members want to see the old pool restored rather than replaced, and neighborhood resident Jacob Sciammas would like a second opinion on cost estimates.

“I would like to see independent assessments and evaluations from engineers be truly independent and objective and not make recommendations,” he said.

Sciammas said he believes there is likely a cheaper, easier repair for the local historic landmark.

“It doesn’t have to be a really giant expensive fix,” he said.

“This pool is something special for the city, but at the end of the day it all comes down to dollars and cents,” Odegaard said. “There’s a lot of things in this community that need financial attention right now. Is memorial pool at the top of that priority list?”

Sciammas thinks it is.

“We want to be budget-conscious and budget-conservative,” he said. “We’ve heard people say, ‘Oh, it’s just their neighborhood pool.’ Well, let’s treat it like that then.”

Odegaard said officials also plan to work with UW-La Crosse to send out a survey gathering community feedback.