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125 Live agreement put on hold to seek more input

Rochester City Council wants youth swimming organizations, Park Board to have chance to weigh in on agreement between city and 125 Live.

125 Live
125 Live Center for Active Adults.
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ROCHESTER — A proposed contract with 125 Live was put on hold Monday in hopes of finding common ground with Rochester swim organizations.

“I think it’s a practical way to give one more round of feedback,” Rochester City Council member Nick Campion said Monday.

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The decision followed a weekend of emails and social media posts regarding a proposed agreement covering a variety of issues, from providing free space for the city’s AccessABLE Recreation program and the use of parking spaces and locker rooms for swim meets to a plan for proposed renovations to an unused lower level space.

A pair of organizations – Rochester Swimming Inc. and Rochester Swim Club – focused on the agreement’s effort to lock in a pool schedule for 125 Live, which largely mirrors current practices regarding use of the two pools in the building shared by the Rochester Rec Center and 125 Live.

Council President Brooke Carlson questioned whether the level of discussion during a nearly 90-minute council review of the contract was appropriate.

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“It’s just mind-boggling that we are here and getting yelled at over email about something, when council should not be nitpicking around pool hours,” she said, adding that she understands the scarcity of pool space is a concern.

“There’s no perfect solution here,” she said, suggesting the groups find a way to work together before the council revisits the issue in early August.

Council member Patrick Keane voiced doubts about the situation.

“I believe this agreement has dragged on for a long time because of the contentious nature of it,” he said.

Rochester Swimming Inc. and Rochester Swim Club saw a copy of the 125 Live agreement for the first time Thursday, but Rochester Management Analyst Heather Heyer said city staff sat down with organizers earlier this year to discuss concerns.

The concerns, related to parking and other issues during swim meets, were addressed in the agreement, but Heyer said concerns about pool time for swimming lessons, which were shared via social media, emerged Thursday, as the council was set to vote on the agreement.

Council member Shaun Palmer said he doesn’t think enough was done to look at different perspectives in reaching the proposed agreement with 125 Live.

“I know this is probably the best deal you think you can get, but we’re tying the City Council for the next five years to contribute to an organization that we don’t have to contribute to,” he said.

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The swim groups questioned setting aside 70 hours in the warm-water pool for 125 Live and 10 hours in the city’s 50-meter lap pool. The agreement leaves the Rec Center with 32 hours a week available for programming in the warm-water pool, and 68 hours in the lap pool.

In an email to city officials, Rochester Swim Club CEO Autumn Kappes also raised concerns about cost of pool usage, citing more than $13,000 in rental payment by her organization for its use of the pools, while the new operating agreement outlines subsidies for 125 Live.

The subsidies, however, are largely unchanged from current practice.

The new agreement calls for up to $119,700 in annual compensation for 125 Live, while the nonprofit drops the $14,400 in annual rent for Rochester’s AccessABLE Recreation program.

The result is a $300 increase in the city’s budget for the current year, if the new agreement is approved.

Heyer said the Rochester Swim Club and Rochester Swimming Inc. weren’t a larger part of discussions because the proposed agreement was created to better define the relationship between the Rochester Rec Center and 125 Live.

“We approached this negotiation as between two parties,” she said, adding that a separate 2015 agreement with the swim organizations defining priorities for swim meets and other uses remains in place.


What happened: The Rochester City Council opted to wait on making a decision regarding a proposed operations contract between the city and 125 Live.

Why does this matter: Local youth swimming organizations voiced objections to elements of the argeement that involved the use of the two pools shared 125 Live and the Rochester Rec Center

What's next: The council plans to revisit the item during its first meeting in August.


Randy Petersen joined the Post Bulletin in 2014 and became the local government reporter in 2017. An Elkton native, he's worked for a variety of Midwest papers as reporter, photographer and editor since graduating from Winona State University in 1996. Readers can reach Randy at 507-285-7709 or rpetersen@postbulletin.com.
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