In 2018, the City conducted an assessment and study on the current facility. The study determined that the structures at the current facility are deteriorating, and many areas of the building do not meet the American with Disabilities Act. City staff has documented that the lap/general-use pool and diving pool are currently losing water due to leaks at a rate of 12,000 to 15,000 gallons per day (1,080,000 to 1,350,000 gallons per summer based on a three-month use period). This is an extreme amount of water loss for a pool vessel.
Yes, based on results of a community survey, when respondents were asked an open-ended question to identify additional recreation amenities and programs that the city could offer, the most common responses were related to swimming pools and water parks. The former topic covered responses related specifically to swimming pools and swimming lessons, while the “water park” topic included references to things like splash pads, water slides, and other water features outside of swimming pools. Furthermore, over 90% of survey respondents reinforced the notion that parks are an essential component for quality of life and attracting individuals to live in and visit the Marshall community.
The new facility proposed cost estimated in early 2023 is approximately $18.3 million. Costs include not only pool construction, but site development, building construction for operation and maintenance, and equipment for operation and project fees.
Funding for the new facility will be a combination of sales tax and private donations and sponsorships. The city has requested a sales tax extension from the Minnesota Legislature. This will not raise taxes; it will just extend the current sales tax already in place. The question of whether to fund the construction of a new aquatic facility will be placed on a general election ballot question and the voters of Marshall will be able to vote on the approval of the extension of the sales tax to help pay for the new aquatic facility.
The City is working with CJ Foods on acquiring property on West College Drive, near the intersection of Saratoga and West College Drive. By moving the location of the new aquatic facility, the current facility will remain open for use while the new one is being constructed. In addition, the new aquatic facility will also be able to accommodate more features, better meet stormwater requirements and will be able to hold more users. There is also additional parking available at this site.
The goal is to begin construction on the new aquatic facility in spring of 2024 with a tentative opening in summer of 2025.
City staff are working closely with the hired engineering consultants for proper decommissioning of the site as well as discussing future park and recreational uses of the site.
A community aquatic facility is beneficial because it is an attraction to perspective community members, promotes interaction and connection with children and families, and promotes a healthy lifestyle. In addition, swimming pools also increase safety in the community because swimming is not just exercise, it is a life-saving skill.
Community and regional members as well as businesses can support the project by being a community advocate, sharing information, making a donation, or through a sponsorship opportunity.
A well-designed outdoor family aquatic center will generate more revenue in 90-100 days than an indoor pool programmed for year-round use. Most aquatic users are recreational users who swim seasonally in the summer, and they prefer to swim outside in warmer water with a variety of water recreation features (slides, rivers, water play structures, etc.). Indoor pools are also two to three times more expensive to build and operate per square foot than outdoor seasonal pools.
Sales tax is paid for by anyone shopping in Marshall. Sales tax provides a city like Marshall with the opportunity of spreading the cost of projects across a broader group of people. The city, being a regional center, approximately 40% of the sales tax collected in Marshall, comes from those that do not live in Marshall.
Property taxes are only paid by those who own property in Marshall. If property taxes were used to pay for these projects, this would require the City to increase the amount of property tax collected impacting the amount of money that all property taxpayers in Marshall would pay.
When looking at how to fund projects, the City looks at who is benefiting from the project proposed and then tries to find the most equitable way to pay for them. The project being considered not only benefit residents of Marshall but others that also visit Marshall. Because the project proposed benefit more than just the residents that live in Marshall, the city has determined that sales tax should be considered for funding.
The total amount of sales that is collected each year in Marshall is approximately $22 million with most of these funds going to the State of Minnesota. The ½ one percent the city is asking voters to consider, would be approximately $1.5 million each year.
The City of Marshall currently collects a one-half of one percent of sales tax for Red Baron and MERIT facilities. These project payments will end early and if the ballot measure passes in November, the City would extend the current sales tax, not raise the sales tax, thus giving us allowance to pay for an aquatic center through 2046.
It is estimated that cost of the sales tax is approximately $65.00 to $70.00 annually per person. Non-prepared foods (groceries) and clothes are exempt from sales tax.
As municipalities take these older facilities offline and replace them with new ones, the number of aquatic construction projects has increased over the past several years. This, coupled with the rising cost and short supply of materials for aquatic facility construction, has caused a dramatic increase in the price of aquatic construction, sometimes at a rate of 5 percent every six months.
Most aquatic centers and pools do not make money and like the city’s parks, pools and aquatic centers are built as quality-of-life amenities, not for-profit enterprises. Revenues comes up against operating expenses that include chemicals for health, and labor for safety and general and minimal upkeep that has been increasing in the last decade due to the current deteriorating conditions.
Based on public input and design experts, the following has been identified as the most desired components of the new aquatic facility to be included:
- 8-Lane Lap Pool
- Zero-Depth Activity Pool
- Leisure Pool with Leisure River and Play Features
- Fully Updated, ADA Accessible Bath House
- Splash Pad - Accessible Outside Normal Operating Hours for Extended Season Use
- Slide Complex with 2 or 3 Different Slides
- Ample Green Space for Family Gathering