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Rochester cutting fees at city pools

City Council earmarks $50,000 to offset cost of fees for Silver Lake and Soldiers Field pools.

Soldiers Field Swimming Pool
Adhan Barnes, 4, of Minneapolis jumps to his Uncle Andre Hernandez of Phoenix, Arizona, while visiting with family on Monday, June 20, 2022, at Soldiers Field Swimming Pool in Rochester, Minnesota.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin
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ROCHESTER — Admission fees for swimming in Rochester’s two outdoor pools took a plunge Monday.

“We should have done this in May, but we are doing this now,” Rochester City Council member Shaun Palmer said of a unanimous council decision to lower pool fees.

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Current fees – $6 for adults and $5 for children – will be reduced to $3 for adults, with the first child admitted free and each additional child paying $2. It would reduce the potential cost for a family of four from $22 to $8.

The added cost for pool operations will be offset by up to $50,000 in city funding.

Parks and Recreation Director Paul Widman said the reduction is expected to cost approximately $33,000, so earmarking $50,000 should cover the reduced fees at the Soldiers Field and Silver Lake pools.

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The Silver Lake Pool has been closed while efforts are underway to repair damages linked to reported vandalism, but the pool could reopen by the end of the month.

Widman said the new fees could be in place by the weekend, depending on how quickly Rochester Swim Club can adjust to the new costs.

Soldiers Field Swimming Pool
A group of kids congregate while swimming on Monday, June 20, 2022, at Soldiers Field Swimming Pool in Rochester, Minnesota.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin

Council President Brooke Carlson said she expects the change will reduce barriers for residents while maintaining some control as the swim club continues to operate the pools.

“I think it would be nice to have no fees, but I know that comes with a whole other set of challenges,” she said, referring to safety concerns that came with free pool admission last year.

Widman said the swim club has already been working to ensure price isn’t too steep of a barrier for potential patrons.

“They have a philosophy that if someone shows up, they swim,” he said, saying fees have been waived for people who could not pay.

He said many of the people allowed in free have been covered through donations or other means.

With the reduced fees, Widman said he expects more people will seek out time in the city pools.

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“Admittedly, the $5 to $6 range every day is pretty steep for a lot of families and a lot of households,” he said.


What happened: Rochester City Council approves using $50,000 to reduce fees at the city's two outdoor public pools.

Why does this matter: Reduced fees are expected to reduce barriers to use of pools

What's next: Fees will be reduced as early as this weekend.


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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