What does the future hold for the Silver Lake pool?

Rochester council to discuss recommendation to close the swimming pool.

The Silver Lake Pool on Wednesday, September 2, 2020, in Rochester. (Andrew Link /

A proposal to close the Silver Lake Park swimming pool permanently next year continues to be up for debate.

“The council is not of one mind right now,” Rochester City Council member Patrick Keane said during a recent council meeting, voicing a concern about the cost of operating two outdoor pools.

The council is slated to revisit the issue Monday afternoon as it continues to address details related to the 2021 city budget.

Rochester Parks and Recreation Director Paul Widman said earlier this month that the pool’s closure would reduce the city’s parks budget by $40,000.

In a memo sent to the council last week, he said attendance at both city pools has remained flat in recent years but also said the Soldiers Field pool sees more than double the daily visitors.


In 2019, the Silver Lake pool reported a daily average of 71 users, compared to 202 at the Soldiers Field pool.

Council member Shaun Palmer, however, said he believes it’s too early to close the pool in his ward.

“That pool was built 60 years ago, and the pool shell is in excellent shape,” he said, noting a 2017 assessment stated it was well-built and in better condition than the Soldiers Field pool.

Widman acknowledged the assessment.

“The structure of the pool, the shell, is in great shape,” he said. “It’s everything around it that supports that pool that is really beyond repair.”

He said the locker room conditions and systems that support the pool have caused closures in recent years, and the 2017 assessment identified $877,000 in needed upgrades.

In 2019, the pool was closed for 13 days due to weather or repairs with 51 days open for operation. During the same year, the Soldiers Field pool was closed 12 days due to weather or repairs and opened for 68 days during the season.

Widman said the city’s Parks and Recreation System Master Plan calls for the Silver Lake pool to be replaced by a water feature, with the design and features to be determined at a later date.


“It’s something we feel we can do better for the community,” he said of replacing the aging pool with a new feature.

Palmer said he’d prefer to see the pool remain and be enhanced.

“I think adding something to it would be a huge help, but closing it and pulling it out doesn’t make sense,” he said.

The council will discuss plans for the pool during its meeting at 3:30 p.m. Monday. The meeting, which is conducted in council chambers of the city-county Government Center at 151 Fourth St. SE, will livestream at and available on Spectrum cable channel 180 or 188.

The council is also slated to discuss its capital improvement plan for 2021 during the meeting.


Meetings scheduled to be held during the week of Sept. 28 include:


• City Council study session, 3:30 p.m. Monday in the council chambers of the city-county Government Center, 151 Fourth St. SE. The meeting will livestream at and available on Spectrum cable channel 180 or 188.


• Public Utility Board, 4 p.m. Tuesday. The meeting will be livestreamed at

Olmsted County

• Planning Advisory Commission, 7 p.m. Thursday in board chambers of the government center. The meeting will be livestreamed at

Rochester Public Schools

• School Board Study Session, 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in the boardroom of the Edison Building, 615 Seventh St. SW. Livestream at

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
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