Approval of a plan to fund another year of operations at the Silver Lake Park pool came with an added challenge Monday.

The Rochester City Council unanimously approved spending $45,000 from its contingency funds for operations, while instructing the city’s Park Board to redirect $50,000 in improvement funds for needed repairs for startup.

“I think there’s a way here to use a couple funding options to make this manageable,” said council member Nick Campion.

The council went a step further and asked the Park Board to look at the potential for dropping fees at the city’s outdoor pools, suggesting the cost could be covered by a portion of the $17.5 million the city expects to receive through the federal American Rescue Plan.

Mayor Kim Norton said the funds appear to be available to help remove financial barriers for such activities. Pool admission fees are $4 and $5, based on age.

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What happened: The Rochester City Council approved $45,000 for Silver Lake pool operations, and asked the Rochester Park Board to redirect $50,000 for repairs to open the pool.

Why does this matter: The pool was closed last year with no plans or budget to reopen, but a community push is seeking one more year of operation.

What's next: The Park Board will discuss the issue at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday


Rochester Parks and Recreation Director Paul Widman said the added cost would be approximately $60,000 in a typical year, but it’s unclear whether the lack of admission will spur a need for more lifeguards, which would increase operating costs.

“That’s a discussion we need to have,” he said, noting the Rochester Swim Club is already working to line up lifeguards and start overseeing operations at the Soldiers Field and Silver Lake pools. The club’s agreement has traditionally allowed it to keep specific revenues from operations.

While work and plans have started, Widman said the pool isn’t expected to open by Memorial Day.

“We’re getting a very late start on this,” he said, noting the work being done traditionally starts when the snow melts.

The decision to reopen the Silver Lake pool after the city announced it would be permanently closed last year stems from a community push for the city to invest more in water-related activities.

“We need clean, supervised water,” Pat Carroll told the council Monday, speaking on behalf of a group known as Let Them Swim.

In addition to reopening the pool this year, the group is seeking added investment in pools and other activities.

Widman said the city is already headed in that direction, as defined in its Parks and Recreation System Plan, which was adopted in 2016. The plan calls for the Soldiers Field pool to be replaced with a new lap pool and children’s activity area, while the Silver Lake pool is slated to be replaced by a yet-to-be-determined interactive water feature.

The Rochester Park Board is scheduled to discuss the City Council’s proposal at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, during its regular monthly meeting. Dial-in information for listening to the meeting live can be requested by emailing parknrec@rochestermn.gov. A video will be posted online following the meeting.