Voters in De Pere will be deciding the fate of two community pools. As Kris Schuller reports, Tuesday night the City Council voted to put a binding referendum on the November ballot, to see if the public wants to pay for both facilities.
It’s been two years since De Pere’s City Council voted to build an aquatic center at VFW Park- and close VFW and Legion pools. But Betsy Hornseth of the Save Legion Pool group – says public opposition to that plan has now brought about big change.
“It was huge, it was huge, one of those pinch me moments, like did that really happen,” said Hornseth.
Tuesday night the City Council did an about face. Setting their plan aside and instead deciding to let voters have the final say in a binding referendum.
“I think it really had to do with all of the community support we’ve seen on a grassroots level to support the pools,” said Alderman Jonathon Hansen.
The referendum will ask resident if they approve increasing the levy limit by $900,000 per year for 15 years to operate pools at VFW and Legion parks. The cost to property owners $45 a year for every $100,000 in value.
“The city is big enough for two pools and for the city to maintain two pools,” said Dan Van Straten from Save Legion Pool.
Last November the group was formed by those who thought it unsafe for children to cross the Claude Allouez bridge to swim at the proposed aquatic center and those who thought it unfair to lose their neighborhood pool.
“We have a lot of kids hopping on bikes, a lot of kids that come here by themselves or families that walk here,” Van Straten said.
“It’s things like the community pools that make us different and so special and attractive and unique,” Hornseth said.
And after months of lobbying their efforts have paid off; a spirited effort that De Pere leaders simply couldn’t ignore.
“The voices became so deafening – they had to listen and that’s what happened last night,” said Hansen.