Hope for Legion Pool supporters

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DE PERE, Wis. (WBAY) -- After two years of back-and-forth, Legion Pool supporters finally have a breath of fresh air.

In a meeting Thursday night, De Pere’s Board of Park Commissioners recommend that City Council reconsider its ruling to create a new aquatic center.

Council will look into this at a meeting next week, as well as consider a binding November referendum, that would save both Legion and VFW Pools.

Action 2 News has been following the pool’s developments for two years.

Back in 2016, De Pere City Council members voted to close Legion Pool, and open a new, multimillion dollar aquatic center in the city.

Since then, the “Save Legion Pool” group has popped up, efforting to keep a pool on each side of the city.

In February of this year, City Council voted to give the group another chance to save the pool, by presenting a plan to De Pere’s Parks Board in August.

However, in July, the Board of Park Commissioners passed the final plans of the new aquatic center, and sent it on to Common Council for a decision.

At a City Council meeting in early August, the board voted to stall that decision, and hear from the Save Legion Pool group.

After six months of preparations, the organization finally presented to the Parks Board Thursday evening.

Action 2 News crews attended the meeting, seeing an outpour of support for Legion Pool. So many people attended, that some were even sitting on the floor or standing the in doorways. By the end of the meeting, there was laughter, applause and even tears.

“I'm very passionate about saving, not just Legion Pool, but I feel that VFW Pool is getting lost as well. The idea of having a place for my kids to go and swim is getting lost in this big aquatic center design,” says Adrianne Burns of De Pere.

Sentiments like that filled the meeting, as many residents voiced support for one pool on each side of the Fox River.

“The vast majority of people who responded to this survey, even those expected to benefit by an aquatic center at the VFW location, want some kind of real aquatic facility on both sides of the Fox River. It was a reoccurring theme over and over again,” said David Hunnicutt of De Pere.

Presenters for Save Legion Pool broke down the financial aspects and benefits of having two pools in the city. They explained how Legion Pool is currently losing money, and described ways to amp up attendance and revenue.

Some discussed real estate values for homes near the pools, and others stated that Legion Pool could qualify for some historical funding.

Overwhelmingly, supporters felt that keeping two pools in the city is a safer option for children.

“Really, our goal in what we're looking for is some sort of aquatic facility on both sides of the river,” Burns reiterates. “Because so many of the kids, this is what they do every day in the summer. And they can bike and they can walk there. And when you move it to just one side of the river, we're not serving our youth the way we really should be.”

At next week’s meeting, Council will discuss a November referendum to keep two pools within the city, and to reconsider the aquatic center.

De Pere City Council will meet again on August 21 at 7:30 p.m.