De Pere's VFW Pool sustains "major structural damage"

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DE PERE, Wis. (WBAY) - The fate of De Pere's VFW Pool is now in limbo after it sustained what's being called major structural damage when it was emptied for the season. City officials are still trying to figure out what caused the damage and how much repairs will be.

De Pere's VFW pool was damaged when it was emptied for the season (WBAY photo)

VFW Park, on the west side, has one of two De Pere pools. Legion Pool is on the east side. City officials were planning to close both and build a new aquatic center at the VFW site, but a group of citizens lobbied the city council and the issue is going to a referendum in November.

Marty Kosobucki is he Director of Parks, Recreation and Forestry for De Pere. According to Kosobucki, "We've been saying for quite awhile, we've kind of been on borrowed time with our pools."

And it now appears time is up on De Pere's VFW Pool. Last Thursday, when city workers were draining the 60 year old pool for the season, its deep well lifted anywhere from six to 18 inches out of the ground, cracking concrete and causing damage to the pool. City officials speculate excess ground water caused by a failing drain tile system led to the damage.

"We have to talk with contractors to figure out what it's going to take to fix, replace, what it's going to cost, the feasibility of fixing and or replacing. Once we get some idea of what can be done or can't be done then we're obviously going to have to take it to our park board and city council and see what they want to do," adds Kosobucki.

The structural failure comes at a time when the city is trying to figure out what to do with its aging pools. After resident pushback the issue is going to the voters in November in the form of a referendum.

"The referendum question allows us to increase the levy limit, to raise additional revenue to pay for aquatic facilities at both parks, specifically VFW Park and Legion Park, so that's what it does, it gives us that option for funding," says Council member Scott Crevier.

It's funding, residents who support the referendum say is imperative, especially now with the structural damage at VFW Pool.

"It makes me worried that, I know the city has no money to spend, and are the days of swimming at VFW over? That's where I think the referendum really comes into play. If the referendum passes, obviously this will be taken care of. If it doesn't, I don't know what the future holds for this pool," says Betsy Hornseth with Save De Pere Pools.

City officials don't know either and won't have a grasp on how serious the situation is, until they receive a definitive answer from contractors examining the damage.