Newburgh leaders learn results of public pool study

Updated: Apr. 30, 2019 at 10:37 PM CDT
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NEWBURGH, IN (WFIE) - Warm weather is here, and pool season isn’t far behind.

The notion of having a public pool has splashed on the minds of Newburgh Town leaders, after learning the results of a year-long “community pool study" during a called meeting Tuesday.

Newburgh officials shut down its public pool last year and soon after, the town partnered with a group of USI Public Administration graduate students, tasking them with taking on an in-depth study on how it could sustain a new pool. The project was the graduate students’ sole assignment in order to graduate this Spring.

“As time has gone on, we have relied on this study from USI to help lead us in the direction that we will need to go," Newburgh Park Board’s Mary Ann Wilsbacher said after hearing the study results for the first time Tuesday.

According to the Town of Newburgh Pool survey, 90-percent agreed the town should build a new pool.

The study group also found 54-percent of residents support a tax increase to pay for it.

Wilsbacher told reporters the community has missed out after Newburgh Pool closed following a significant pipe burst.

“My children learned to swim at Newburgh Pool; they were born in the 70′s," Wilsbacher said, explaining an aquatics center is a generational investment. “My grandchildren have learned to swim at Newburgh Pool, and they lived in northern Chicago, where it’s too cold."

The USI group, now graduates with Master’s Degrees, explained they started a focus group made up of several stakeholders in the community over the past year. They collectively came up with the recommendation to build a new mixed-use facility. The group suggested it feature a lazy river, basketball courts, a splash pad, and public event spaces in order to create year-round revenue.

The group also found it would take a tremendous amount of private donations to fund a multi-million-dollar facility, which wasn’t news to town officials.

The estimated donor figure? Around $1 million, depending on construction costs, the group presented.

“Of course I have faith in it," Wilsbacher said when asked if she was confident in the city and/or county coming up with such a figure. "I have to have faith in it, or else I could not move forward.”

The Town of Newburgh Parks Board is set to meet this Thursday to discuss the findings of this study. Parks Board meetings are open to the public and are held at Newburgh Town Hall at 7 p.m.

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