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Few pools, little swim teaching: In Minneapolis, an issue of equity and safety

Phillips Aquatic Center
Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board
Option B of the Phillips Aquatic Center lap-pool renovation and addition

Minneapolis may be the City of Lakes, but it has a swimming crisis of alarming proportions. It has no public indoor swimming pool where urban youth can learn to swim, and no clear-cut institutional champion of swimming as either a safety issue or a sport.

Minnesota, meanwhile, has the highest drowning rate in the country for African-American youth and the third highest for Native Americans. Drowning is the leading cause of accidental death for African-Americans between ages 5 to 14. They are three times as likely to drown as their white peers.

And that’s not the only aquatic inequity. Over the years, most of the aging, expensive-to-maintain pools Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) has closed have been in schools in low-income neighborhoods. The two remaining lap pools where swim teams can practice and meet are located in the far southwest and northeast corners of the city. 

If students at the more impoverished schools want to swim competitively, they face bus rides of up to two hours a day and lanes crowded with as many as a dozen swimmers at a time.

Funds for a pool overhaul

There’s virtual consensus that the best way to address both problems is to renovate a mothballed indoor pool at the Phillips Community Center on the city’s south side. So much so that two years ago the Legislature passed $1.75 million in bonds to pay for the overhaul, and Hennepin County agreed to put up an additional $350,000.

Would that it were that simple. Unlike, say, an afterschool arts program, pools come with high operating costs. You need capital to build them, and you need a stable source of revenue to justify those construction costs.

“This is a social-justice issue,” said Hannah Lieder, founder of Minneapolis Swims, the nonprofit leading the effort to renovate the pool. “The last four kids to drown in Minneapolis have all been African-American.”

None of the organizations involved in the discussion disagrees. It’s just that if that revenue stream turns out not to be so stable, well, someone’s going to be left holding the bag.

“No one wants to take institutional ownership of it,” said Sen. Jeff Hayden, a Minneapolis DFLer. “I’ve been very frustrated with the process because I feel there is a little bait and switch.” It’s particularly frustrating, he said, going into another legislative bonding cycle with funding for a project that was depicted as “shovel ready” still untouched.

In November, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board delivered a formal proposal [PDF] to MPS that outlined three options for renovating the facility. The district has yet to reply. Administrators said they are engaged in internal discussions about the proposal, which must be part of a larger discussion about athletics, extracurricular activities and equity.

“As a district, we believe that there should be equitable access to all kinds of programming throughout the school district,” said MPS Director of Communications Stan Alleyne. “This is more than swimming. We have to look at this in a broader way.”

Bonds, funding could be lost

Advocates for the project are anxious, however. If there is no agreement outlining the construction and operation of the proposed Phillips Aquatic Center by June, the bonds and grant money are off the table. 

About a dozen swim team families showed up at the most recent Minneapolis School Board meeting to plead their case. Board members Kim Ellison and Carla Bates asked for the formation of an ad hoc committee to tackle the question.

By way of reply, district leaders asked which of the current priorities should be set aside to make time. Staff should have a recommendation for the board in coming weeks, Alleyne said Thursday.

Four years ago Minneapolis Swims, then a year-old nonprofit, persuaded the Minneapolis Park Board not to fill the dilapidated pool in the Phillips Community Center with concrete.

The Park Board had never operated an indoor pool, and had no interest in doing so. The building, a onetime junior high MPS donated to the parks in 1986, came with a pool. The parks were only too happy to lease it to the Boys and Girls Club, which gave the building back in 2008. 

Underserved kids

Minneapolis Swims was positive that demand for the pool was there. There are 50 K-12 schools within two miles of the facility. And the city in general is underserved. While St. Paul has a public pool for every 28,000 residents, Minneapolis has one for every 131,000 and just 11 public indoor lanes.

Minneapolis public poolsMinneapolis Park & Recreation Board

St. Paul public poolsMinneapolis Park & Recreation Board

The back and forth that ensued was exhaustive, but the bottom line is that the parks agreed to Minneapolis Swims’ request to put together a feasibility study for turning the facility into the Phillips Aquatic Center, which could be used by a variety of groups.  

In 2012, Lieder went to the Capitol to testify, armed with a stack of research showing swimming’s health and cognitive benefits and accompanied by some neighborhood children. When she was done, Hayden asked if lawmakers could hear from the kids.

Her across-the-street neighbor, a small boy from Kenya, made a pretty bare-bones case: “He said, ‘I want to learn to swim so I won’t drown,’” Lieder recalled.

Lawmakers passed $1.75 million in bonds, tacking on a clause requiring a local matching grant of $350,000. Hennepin County tapped a fund established by the Minnesota Twins as part of its stadium deal to come up with the smaller amount. The park board asked Minneapolis Swims for a conceptual design and business plan. 

In the proposal, Minneapolis Swims and the Park Board outlined three possible designs. The least expensive could mostly be paid for with the existing state dollars. The other two would likely require private funds. 

A consultant who helped draw up the proposal is confident there are philanthropic funds that could help meet the higher construction costs, said parks Commissioner Scott Vreeland, whose district would be home to the facility.

The three options

Option A would overhaul the existing six-lane pool and add a four-lane, warm-water pool for swimming lessons. The new, shallow pool could be closed off for privacy, which would facilitate lessons for Muslim girls.

At an estimated cost of $5.8 million, Option B would include the four-lane pool for lessons and expand the main pool from six lanes to eight, which would enable teams from MPS and Augsburg College to compete in many categories.

At $8.2 million, Option C would add a diving pool, which would enable the teams to compete in full range of activities. All three scenarios include renovated locker rooms and office space, although the changes would be minimal under the cheapest proposal.

Even if construction money turned up, he added, the Park Board would need to be confident that the proposed “fee-for-service” model would support the facility. The consultant insists it would, but parks officials are proceeding cautiously.

The park system has said it would contribute some $125,000 of the facility’s projected $576,000 annual operating and program costs as well as $25,000 to a capital reinvestment escrow account. 

And while it would be nice if it were self-sustaining from day one — the consultant’s calculations show it running a slender profit — the reality is the first year would probably need a Park Board subsidy, Vreeland said.

“We run outdoor pools and we lose money,” said Vreeland. “We have never run a pool that makes money.”

The Park Board would expect MPS' use fees to come to a projected $150,000-$220,000 a year, which would give MPS control over about half the schedule. And to give the schools the features the varsity teams need, a capital contribution is probably necessary.

“Minneapolis Public Schools could and should be a part of this,” said Vreeland. “Their use would certainly help stabilize operations.”

A first step toward equity

The father of three MPS competitors, Jon Kramka was one of the parents who spoke at the school board’s January meeting. He’s been agitating for more equitable swimming resources for years. 

Rather than wait to resolve an overarching discussion about “secondary” athletics, he sees a district commit to the Phillips renovation as a concrete first step toward equity.

Right now, 179 students — two-thirds of them girls — from six high schools spend most of their year swimming on two consolidated teams. During the regular season they swim together, but because the schools are in different size classifications they can’t swim together at sectionals or divisions.

'A very disruptive reality'

“It’s a very disruptive reality that our swim teams have to deal with,” Kramka said. “My position is there needs to be equity and accountability across the district so long as we are a district that provides varsity athletics.”

School board member Bates agreed: “I want a plan for swimming in Minneapolis and I want the Phillips pool built.”

The South swim team can’t dive, she noted, because the pool at the Midtown YWCA where they practice is too shallow. And the team has trouble getting to Southwest, where the district’s best facility, renovated two years ago at a cost of $1.2 million, is still subpar.

“They cannot compete,” said Bates. “It’s like having a hockey rink with no ice.”

And with 70 percent of African-Americans and 58 percent of Latinos unable to swim, it’s a small price to pay for what the city would get, Lieder argued.

“Getting it all under one roof — this is revolutionary,” she said. “I’ve had people say this should be a model for the country. ... We are the City of Lakes. Our kids need to be able to swim.”

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Comments (16)

An excellent article that makes a very good point.

I never learned to swim in elementary or high school because there was no pool access. Had to lean how at NU when I went to college because you had to be able to swim a mile to pass phys ed.

I do believe that this is a social justice/safety issue..

How about lakes?

As a kid, the first water safety class I attended was at a local beach. It was roped in, we didn't go very deep, but we covered things like how to float and a few basic swimming strokes to teach us how to move through water.

Sure - we weren't doing laps. But that's not what it was about. It was about letting us learn that we could navigate in the wet stuff - enough to hopefully stave off panic in real life situations.

So what's different? Has the liability landscape changed so that it's now seen as too risky to allow untrained kids into a body of water that is not bounded by concrete walls on all four sides? Or is it just general concern about the overall cleanliness and safety of lake water?

Safety should be our only concern here

I believe everyone should know how to swim. So here's an idea: Where are they drowning? Conduct swimming lessons there.

The need for more pools so swimming can be promoted for organized sport is unimportant. A few years ago, the city of Saint Paul built an $11 million swimming pool in the racially mixed neighborhood around Oxford playground and St. Paul Central High School. Do we know how many black kids (and adults) have been taught to swim there since its construction?

Agreed

It *does* seem like an equity issue.

That said, I’m inclined to agree with the first sentence in each of Dennis Tester’s paragraphs. I would dismiss the rest of each paragraph, but the first sentence of each is not unreasonable.

*Everyone* ought to know how to swim – it’s a basic life-saving skill that should have nothing to do with someone’s race, ethnic or religious heritage, or degree of affluence or poverty. I’m a fair swimmer – not great, not awful – but I’ve never regarded it as something recreational. It’s always been simply a survival skill, and I still regard it that way. If black kids are drowning because they’ve never been taught how to swim, it’s… well… to put it as kindly as possible, it’s unconscionable. A society interested in equity ought to find a way to remedy that situation.

At the same time, I have the same level of interest in subsidizing competitive swimming that I have for subsidizing professional football stadiums, which is to say, none at all. Sports are trivial, and if individuals and their families find that they enjoy swimming so much that they want to do it competitively, why, they can join the legions of other individuals and families who make sacrifices to support the athletic dream of a family member, whatever the sport. I’m guessing that even here in the Frozen North there are swim clubs with access to Olympic-quality swimming facilities. They’re probably not free, but almost nothing in life is. That’s not a reason to saddle taxpayers with the bill so that someone’s daughter can “get serious” about competitive swimming.

During the few weeks a year when the lake water might be warm enough not to induce cardiac arrest upon entry, Pat Berg’s idea seems a sound one. Sadly, it simply won’t work through much/most of the year in this climate. The water itself is a health risk just from the standpoint of temperature. And speaking of health risks, even if we leave temperature out of the discussion, there are other health-related reasons to avoid at least some of the local lakes, no matter how pristine they might look on a fine spring day.

Personally, in the unlikely event that I’m overwhelmed by a desire to swim somewhere, I’ll find a pool.

There's much more to the story...

The story's author should have interviewed other school board members to determine the reason why this project has not moved forward.According to my sources, several school board members have pointed out that putting millions of dollars into a property that they do not own has not gained widespread support of the sitting members. Citing the MidTown YWCA agreement for the South High School, it has caused considerable headaches and a lot of unhappiness. And that pool is on MPS land, so I'm told.

Instead, they have talked about a plan to refurbish pools at Franklin and Olson schools and support operations of the Phillips Community Center pool so that children and youth can get their swimming lessons in that location.

As to Senator Jeff Hayden's comments, if they only wanted to fix up the pool and get it back into the use of the community, the money appropriated and matched by Hennepin County could have gotten the job done. Instead, a huge makeover plan to create a competition destination costing an additional $6 million has not come to fruition. Many of us who live close by would just like to get our pool back and running before the appropriated funds get shifted somewhere else.

Assessing all of the Community's Resources

I am left with more questions than answers from this article.

I learned to swin in a community pool in a small town in Wisconsin. I taught non-swimmers basic survival skills in class sponsored by the Rotary Club. The pool sponsored the local swim team. It was located at the YMCA.

We have many YMCA's, and YWCA's in Minneapolis too. How come these resources are not mentioned within the spectrum of assets available to our kids to learn swimming in and around Minneapolis?

I am sure there is a reason -- I seem to be missing it.

The last time I was at the YWCA-MIdtown teaching my daughter how to swim there was a host of classes, open swim, considerations for Muslin female swimmers, and more. The YWCA's core mission is about addressing issues of racism in our community. As a non profit community resources serving the inner city youth with a swimming resource -- why isn't it listed as part of the solution?

I have no doubt more lanes are needed, perhaps the community needs to invest in more infastructure, perhaps the limited available resources can be effectivly spread to support additional institutions -- but it seems as the case would be better made if the map and associated article took into account all of the currently available resources as it made the case.

Yes, there's more to the story...

Robert Albee should be cautious about the author looking into the whole story of this project. If Robert Albee would have his way the Phillips pool will be therapy pools for the elderly and the Minneapolis Park Board building will be a another health clinic. It seems like there are lots of health clinics around too. I don't think the MPRB should be in the business of hosting health clinics on their properties. Robert Albee is not merely an observer of this story.

Disclaimer: Yes, I am a member of Minneapolis Swims, and yes, I do have a bone to pick with Robert Albee.

Response to Robert Albee's There's Much More To The Story

Mr. Albee is correct. There is much more to the story. Albee is at the forefront of an attempt to undermine the effort to build a pool at Phillips Community Center (PCC). The Minneapolis Swims pool design focuses on a youth swimming facility which includes a regulation Olympic Pool, a diving pit, and a teaching area. Albee wants therapeutic pools at the expense of a diving pit and teaching pool.

The addition of therapeutic pools would serve Albee's personal interest in relation to A Partnership of Diabetics (APOD). APOD is a nonprofit founded by Albee. APOD purports to do community outreach on the issues relating to diabetes. While, therapeutic pools add nothing to the development of youth swimming, they would add an air of legitimacy and an additional monetization feature for APOD. Right now APOD is largely funded by Allina's backyard initiative. APOD also receives "donations" from Ventura Village Neighborhood Association. (VVNA) Albee is a board member and an officer of VVNA. APOD and VVNA offices share one room in PCC. Despite the glaring conflict of interest, Albee uses his interlocking directorships to influence the design of the aquatics facility. I know this because I sued Robert Albee and VVNA last year. In small part, the aim of the lawsuit was to protect Minneapolis Swims’ efforts. The case was dismissed, because I lacked the requisite number of plaintiffs. I will refile in the spring of 2014.

In the meantime, Albee works behind the scenes to convince members of Minneapolis Park and Rec to stall the aquatic center. The overall result: 1) Low-income and minority children don't learn to swim; 2) Plans for a world-class regional aquatics facility cannot be realized in a Minneapolis neighborhood which could use the economic stimulus; 3) The inequality gap widens; 4) APOD continues to utilize City of Minneapolis taxpayer money to peddle influence and fund their own interests.

Questions

I've watched this project from the periphery as I I'm involved with a local swim team and lessons program. It's an awesome mission, and one that I know my organization (the YWCA) and the local Blaisdell and North YMCA organizations have also been addressing.
I do disagree about the lack of competitive swimming leadership in the city. The Minneapolis Otters have over 300 city residents on their swim team, and they commit thousands of dollars in scholarship to add to the significant total that the YWCA already has raised for the swim for change. In fact, several of the people in the article currently or in past years have had children on the Otters. Those high school swimmers do not spend all year on the school teams- they max out around three months, and the rest of the year have to find club teams, per MSHSL rules.

I do have a question- one of the comments cited a regulation Olympic pool (which is 25 meters by 50 meters, not 25 yards), and others talk about therapy pools, zero depth, and so on. Where are the most updated pool plans to be found?

Alot of swirling

Interesting how people's true colors come out. Somebody's here apparently backing a clinic and another making threats against him while defending their program. What a bunch of pigs at a trough! How about doing some true reporting and getting all the facts of the story. Mpls. has no access to pools? Last I checked the Y's, both YM and YW have pools. MPS has NE Middle School and Southwest HS. Seems to me that this project is quite close in proximity to the last project the school district backed- the Midtown Y. By reading the comments it appears that project had a lot of promises that were broken. What makes this any different? What schools or teams from MPS are going to have access to this facility to make it a great investment for the school district? From what I can remember when my swimmer swam in MPS, South used the Midtown Y, SW and Washburn used SW, Edison/North/Henry used NE. From what I hear now is that there are two swim teams in the district- SW/Edison/Henry/North and South/Washburn/Roosevelt. South pays for transporting Washburn and Roosevelt to the Midtown Y and wherever else they choose while SW is paired with the Northside schools that have no transportation. What a clever endeavor! Let's pay for a pool in a neighborhood where the kids already have transportation to go where they need.

The folks at Mpls Swims have done a great job in securing the funds they need to get the pool up and running, maybe it wasn't enough for your plan but please don't beg from the MPS. While I think the district does need to pony up and make this situation for all schools better I don't believe this is a viable option. Seems to me like this would be a fruitless investment for MPS. Why would MPS not want to have a centrally located facility with an Olympic size pool, yes 50 meters, to use as they see necessary for their programing, instead of being held at the mercy of another organization.

The Pool is revenue generating and needed

The article left out some unique things about this project. We the residents (I live in the neighborhood) wanted the big pool. For many reasons: here are a few:

The big pool actually generates revenue. B/C it can hold meets. Due to our location and the fact that there are not many option - we can actually run the pool and not depend on the boondoggle of continued bail out. MPLS swims did hire an outside consultant to work that peice out.

We also wanted the bigger design b/c it offers the space for single gender classes. We have a large Somali population here and we want to have inclusive community activities that respects culture. Also there are many non-Somali women who expressed liking this option.

Yes the YW is great but it does not have the space/capacity to serve the 20,000 children in our area, the community and is not a public pool.

MPLS swims has worked hard to have the programming meet SHIP (the recs for all of MPLS from department of health) and to partner with both the park board and school board to really be an asset to our city.

If we can build the pool, we can not only save lives. 10 Drownings a day in US 7/10 are people of color. But we can work to close the achievement gap in our students of color. There is good evidence based studies correlating swimming to improved academic performance. We should also include promoting fitness and health lifestyles (hello obesity costs) and the potential impact of decreasing youth violence. The big plan has a diving well- it was the number #1 thing the adolescent boys asked for.

This neighborhood is wonderful. People in MPLS often look at Ventura Village/Phillips and see poor/black/brown/Native/immigrant- and poverty and all of its problems. But this is a wonderful community and our community and our children deserve an aquatics center. When I look at us I see our unlimited potential. The pool is one way to help us get there.

Finally, part of the difficulty of this project was the interference of an individual on the neighborhood group board who wanted therapy pools. and despite the community not endorsing this did many things to hinder the project. Including commenting here about more to the story.

This project does need funds so please feel free to get involved, donate we all succeed when we do it together.

Happy Reynolds MD

More Facts

Ha! “Pigs at a trough!” That’s funny! It also implies that the pigs at the trough are equal. Oh if it could only be that way. The people in Phillips are the ones that want a swimming pool and the people in Phillips want the existing empty pool, to be resurrected and renovated. Minneapolis Swims is working on behalf of the people of Phillips and the people of Minneapolis to do that. However we do not have the influence, clout or power of the people who control the political maelstrom that is Phillips.

The leaders of the Phillips neighborhood organizations claim to represent the people of their neighborhoods but their actions belie that claim as they use and abuse their position and power to perpetuate their own agenda. If calling them on their actions reveals the true colors, then so be it. There are far too many people that sit on the sidelines and pretend they’re wise and prudent as they post myopic comments on web sites and implore others to do “some true reporting.” How about really reading the article and actually absorbing the information? The second line of the article reads “It has no public indoor swimming pool…” Last time I checked the YMCA and YWCA do not run public access pools.

What MPS schools would have access to Phillips Pool? How about South, Washburn, and Roosevelt? The Phillips Pool is a public pool. MPS partnering with the MPRB is a viable option as the MPS swim teams would be the priority participants. Expanding the Phillips pool to eight lanes will provide the school district with the ability to host swim meets for the first time ever, and give South, Washburn and Roosevelt swim teams a place they can call “home.”

There is a great lack of swimming capacity in Minneapolis, and the Phillips Pool will not fill the void. A fifty meter Olympic pool will not fill the void either, although it would be wonderful to have. Swimming has been neglected in Minneapolis for decades and it will take a sustained effort to turn this situation around.

Aquatics has come a long way since the 1970s when most school pools were built. Today the focus is on sustainability — building pools that will financially sustain themselves over time. This is why the Phillips Pool is so desirable. It will be shared by the schools, the MPRB, the community and other users to keep it busy and generating income throughout the day. This is a win/win situation for the Minneapolis Public Schools, the community, and taxpayers.

FACTS

MPS put money towards the Midtown Y. With that agreement from what I am told MPS was to be given a certain amount of time available to them to use. It sounds or appears this deal was thrown together with no legal documents so it basically was a handshake arrangement. So now that agreement is no longer being honored? If so the MPS legal dept. should look into that. I'm sure it was also agreed since South was so close to the Midtown Y that this would be their practice facility. The deal went bad so now MPS is suppose to partner in to construct them a new facility which isn't even fully theirs. That makes no sense to me as a taxpayer.

From my recollection the district hosts many meets. My swimmer had many meets at SW and St. Kates. We also attended meets at the U of MN hosted by South. From what I can determine these lucrative invites at the U of MN which bring in tens of thousands of dollars to their team and it backs up my previous statement that they pay to have their team members actively transported across the town to pools they want to practice at. So by no means are they financially disadvantaged. Are they inconvenienced? Yes, they are, just like every other school in the district with the exception of SW seeing that a pool is at their school.

Looking at the map in comparison to St. Paul, Minneapolis has a lot of work to do. Yes the Phillips project or even a 50 meter pool won't fill the void. Yes aquatics has come a long way from the early 70s, back when I swam. I actually competed at the Phillips facility. I also took a bus to practice at Olson Middle School and NE Middle School pre 35W completion, this was an inconvenience. We made it work. Is today a bit different? Yes, different challenges, different ideals, and different social norms. MPS needs to be more creative with the projects they help fund. You speak of equal, but then you say South/Washburn/Roosevelt will have access to the facility. What about the other schools? If any school can use the facility then I would consider it equal, but I have seen no mention of this in your statement. This one seems to be pretty centered towards one group or team and not benefitting the school district in general. This is not equity.

You say, "The people in Phillips are the ones that want a swimming pool and the people in Phillips want the existing empty pool, to be resurrected and renovated. Minneapolis Swims is working on behalf of the people of Phillips and the people of Minneapolis to do that." I believe Mpls Swims obtained the funds they needed to complete the task they presented to the legislature. As I said before Mpls Swims has done a great deal of work on this project and the aquatic community should be thankful. It just seems like it has morphed into many different things and as a taxpayer I can't support MPS giving the funds to this.

Maintenance costs

It should be made clear that sports venues never make money. There appears to be confusion as to what an Olympic pool is and it was correctly stated earlier that it is a 50 yard pool. One of many issues not discussed is that a full blown Olympic pool and diving well would require a large lifeguard staff which is not only an expense but trained lifeguards are hard to find.
In my younger days I was a lifeguard at a variety of lake and pool locations including the Phillips pool. Diving wells are great for competitive diving but they are a huge hazard when you have public swim trying to keep people out of them.
Philips was a popular pool in its day and I don't recall there was a fee for open swimming so it was completely subsidized at the time by MPS when it was still a middle school.
Not sure where the consultant on this project got numbers that make this potential pool self sustaining. Overly optimistic numbers have gotten several facilities in the Twin Cities in trouble including the NE skating rink and more recently a rink at Vadnais Heights. As I mentioned sports venues do not make money, I would make sure there is outside funding to keep any new sports facility running past construction.

There is still much confusion about this project

1. The Phillips pool is a 25-yard, short course pool and will remain so.  The difference is it will be an 8-lane, rather than a 6-lane pool.  (An Olympic pool is 50-meters.)   An 8-lane pool is required to host conference swim meets.  

2. Of the seven high schools in Minneapolis only Southwest has a pool.  Is that equal? The Phillips Pool would become the home pool for South, Washburn and Roosevelt High Schools like the Southwest pool is the home pool for Southwest, North and Edison.

3. The fact the YWCA deal didn't work out as well as everyone hoped should not affect this facility.  The YWCA is a private organization that needs to serve its members first and it is not a competition pool.  The Phillips Pool is a public facility owned by the MPRB and will serve MPS first.  I agree that MPS needs to be more creative with the projects they help fund.  The fact the Phillips Pool is not "fully" an MPS pool is actually an advantage because it allows it to be used by other entities during non-MPS hours thereby making it financially sustainable.  

4. Water Parks do not financially sustain themselves.  The configuration of the Phillips Pool was designed to be financially sustainable and the larger the facility, the more financially sustainable it becomes.  It's easy for anyone posting comments here, who do not have expertise in aquatics or this project, to give their OPINION as to whether they think this facility will financially sustain itself or not.  

5. From what I understand MPS has discussed plans to reopen two closed pools at Olson and Franklin.  If they follow through with these plans 100% of the funding for both the renovation and ongoing operation will come from taxpayers.  Yet neither of those two facilities will have the potential to generate revenue or share costs like the Phillips Pool.  And neither of them will give MPS a badly-needed competition facility for the district.

Confusion about Mpls. Swimming

This is from me being a parent of a swimmer that graduated 5 years ago. Southwest is the only 6 lane pool in MPS. NE has a 5 lane pool, Olson is a 5 lane pool, and Franklin is a 5 lane pool. From the reading I understand Olson and Franklin are not operated or are being refurbished. Hopefully MPS learned from their mistakes at SW and will not make the same mistakes with these facilities.

As far as I'm aware Southwest is a MPS facility owned and operated by MPS, not controlled by a certain team or group. So I would think any MPS school or team could host or run a meet there. South from what I was told when I was involved did not want to host meets at SW because the facility could not generate the revenue their team wanted such as the ones they host at the U of MN. If they want to host or run meets believe me I'm sure they can at SW. I know many parents from my years would have gladly taken the night away from running concessions or timing to rotate with another team. And just an FYI those meets held there, that money goes to MPS not to the SW team, only the concession sales which were pennies compared to the U of MN meets my swimmer swam in hosted by South. Those meets at the U of MN South keeps the dollars generated.

You do not need a eight lane facility to host dual meets and invites, but yes it is ideal. Not many high schools in the state of MN have eight lane facilities. Matter of fact most of the inner ring suburbs don't and even some of the outer ring ones. You do need a eight lane pool to run bid-on club meets, which I also witnessed as a supporter of the Richfield Swim Club. Sectionals in high school are operated by the Minnesota State High School League so they determine proper sites for their meets.

Generating dollars from a pool without a water park is, pardon the pun, a sinking effort. My concern is two fold, do all teams and schools have access to this facility? And what happens when programming doesn't make the dollars need to sustain the facility? Does the MPRB or MPS pick up the tab? Oh wait those are public entities, so then the taxpayer picks up the tab. If I'm going to pay for an option, I would choose to pay for MPS to have their own facility, pick the programming, rent out dead time, and use as they feel necessary. At least then I feel comfortable that all the stakeholders from across the city have been given the opportunity to use it. It again just seems to me like this is geared in one direction, towards one group.