Green Bay’s mayor has vetoed a plan to rebuild an Olympic-size swimming pool at Colburn Park. Local 5 spoke with the mayor – as well as pool supporters – many of which believe the move is pure politics.
A vote by Green Bay City Council a week ago gave the go ahead for a $5.8 million pool project for Colburn Park. Tuesday Mayor Jim Schmitt issued a veto – blocking the plan.
“We love the neighborhood, the Colburn area, we think they deserve an aquatic center,” said Mayor Jim Schmitt. “But more in the reality of $3.5 million.”
Mayor Schmitt says the issue is the estimated price tag. He says when you factor in interest payments and infrastructure improvements the cost could exceeds $11 million. Which is well above the $3.5 million the mayor says the city can afford to provide for an aquatic center at Colburn Park.
“I’ve gotten plenty of calls and people saying that seems to be over the top and not necessary,” Schmitt said.
“I thought petty politics. I thought it was revenge,” said Alderman Chris Wery.
The veto angers Alderman Wery who has long pushed for the pool while helping raise $1 million in donations towards construction.
“He’s really trampling on all the people who’ve supported this – all the donors, all who have worked so hard – it’s really disgusting,” Wery said.
“I’m just heartbroken,” said Olivia Crooks, who started the group Friends of Colburn Pool six years ago. “I have no words to express the ultimate sadness I feel.”
Wery believes the veto is personal – connected to Schmitt’s conviction on three misdemeanor campaign finance charges earlier this month.
“I think he’s gunning for people who brought up his campaign finance and my name was on the top of that list and he’s taking that personally, very disappointing,” Wery said.
Alderman Wery has asked for a special meeting of City Council for an override vote – which he says would require the support of two-thirds of the council. Schmitt says that’s his right to pursue. But he is not changing his mind.
“I feel very good, the gut feels that this was the right thing to do,” said Schmitt.
“I know there are one or two people who won’t put up with a veto,” Wery said. “I don’t know if he (Schmitt) knows that, but he’s going to fail.”