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Answer Man: Soldiers Field pool work was in '98

Dear Answer Man, I've always wanted to ask you a question, but I Google the answer first and often find it. This time I wasn't able to figure it out, so I will rely on your wisdom and resources. The P-B had an editorial last Friday about Rochester treading water with the pool situation. They listed outlying towns and their pool investments with prices and what year the work was done. I seem to remember that the Soldiers Field pool was renovated in the past 20 years and that a lot of people were disappointed that the renovations didn't bring it up to par by making it more of an aquatic center. What year were the renovations done and at what cost?

First, let me address the fallacy of checking Google first.

Just about anything you learn from Google about something like the Soldiers Field pool will come from the P-B archives. Since I all but live in the P-B archives — I'm like the Hunchback of the Post-Bulletin Archives — why not start with me? And I offer wit, wisdom, charm, a local-ness that a California computer farm will never have, and in the end, choice information.

Regarding the Soldiers Field pool, it seems like yesterday that the pool got its makeover, but in fact it was nearly 15 years ago. The city spent about $1.35 million to build a new bathhouse and make improvements that were state-of-the-art in those days. The project went through a few extra laps because the original bathhouse was designed in part by the architect of Rochester's golden age, Harold Crawford.

Kevin Lund , then an attorney and now an Olmsted County district judge, was a leader in the effort to keep the bathhouse from being knocked down, but in the end, knocked down it was . The new pool and bathhouse opened in June 1999.


I was reminded in checking out the court record , by the way, that Crawford was responsible for only part of the Mount Vernon-like design. The original wing was by Crawford and dated from 1929. The rest was added in 1936 and the total cost was $65,000. The pool was said to be the biggest in Minnesota at that time.

The Soldiers Field upgrade was cheap compared with recent rebuilds in some area towns. The new Kasson Aquatic Center cost $3.1 million, has multiple pools, elaborate water slides, fountains, beach umbrellas and all the rest. The Plainview pool got a $1.5 million facelift a few years ago, and the city of Byron is pricing new pools, since the existing pool is shot. The options have been put at roughly $3 million and above. A $3 million pool would add about $100 a year for 15 years to the property tax bill on a house valued at $150,000.

The gold standard for public swimming holes, people say, is the aquatic center in Apple Valley. That one got a $4.28 million upgrade about five years ago, approved by voters in 2007, and can accommodate 1,900 people, or just about the entire population of Eyota.

So these facilities aren't cheap. It's reasonable for the average taxpayer to say, do we really need a pool that looks like a hotel water park in the Wisconsin Dells?

Dear Answer Man, do you feel any need to get out of the passing lane when you're going 5 miles an hour over the speed limit, there are cars in the driving lane that you'll eventually pass, you'd have to go 10 miles an hour over the limit to get past them faster, and people behind you are annoyed?


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