Momentum continues to grow for new Family Aquatic Center

Submitted by Jennifer Feely
City Clerk/Administrator

Nationally, and in the state of Minnesota, swimming is third only to walking and fishing in popularity of sports and leisure activities, meaning that there is a significant market for aquatic activities. This has been the driving force for a group of motivated volunteers for the past year.

Now planning a capital campaign with Crescendo Consulting L.L.P., the Steering Committee is gathering to lay the groundwork for a successful capital campaign.

“A new Family Aquatic Center in our community will positively affect our schools, restaurants, retail stores, gas stations and businesses,” commented Mayor Bob Burns, who also serves on the Steering/Case Committee. “If we take on one project at a time, we will make Caledonia a place where businesses will want to continue to locate and residents will want to live.”

The cost of the Aquatic Center, which has been designed by U.S. Aquatics, is estimated at up to $1.7 million. The center will be located on the site of the current pool.

The city council approved pledging up to $400,000 into the pool project on Feb. 13 – a move that will support the drive without raising property taxes. The city currently has two general obligation (GO) bonds that will be paid off in the next year. Once those GO bonds are paid off, the annual payments for the bonds could go to cover the bonding for the pool project with the remaining funds covered through pledges and outright gifts.

City Clerk/Administrator Jennifer Feely felt the decision to proceed with a capital campaign was based on the positive outcome and recommendations of a Community Assessment Study that was presented in February.

Crescendo Consulting, L.L.P. researched the ability and willingness of businesses, individuals, and grant-making organizations in the Caledonia area to support a $1.7 million capital campaign. The firm tested the capacity, scope, and potential strategies for a major capital drive. The same firm has been hired to manage the campaign.

“The results of the study confirmed many community and city leaders believe this public/private partnership is the ideal way to make the project happen,” stated Burns. “It won’t be easy, but we have seen similar fundraising projects that have been extremely successfully completed with the assistance of Crescendo owners, Ellen Hongerholt and Laura Eddy. We are very confident our fundraising campaign will be equally as successful so we can build this quality facility here, too.”

Volunteers who will be serving on the Pre-Campaign Steering /Case Committee include: Mark and Joanne Zard, Tim and Shelia Murphy, Steve Reiman, Craig Schroeder, Jeb and Pam Griffith, Mary Pieper, Ann Thompson, Steve Schuldt, Diane Lager, Tom Murphy, Mike Werner, Jon Hagerott and Paul Fisch.

Volunteers who will be serving on the Communications Committee include: Lois Greer, Karen Ness, Pam Griffith, Carol Nelson, Allison Tolleson, Carolyn Medin, Tom Murphy, Bob Burns and Marge Birkland.

Several additional committees will be developed as necessary and volunteer opportunities will exist throughout the year.

“We believe this campaign is a win-win situation for us all,” said Burns. “Based on the project’s strengths and the Community Assessment Study data, it was evident a number of positive factors exist to fund this needed facility without raising taxes,” he said.

“All ages and abilities will receive the benefits of the outdoor aquatic facility,” Burns continued. “We will plan for a number of months before we take this project to the people,” he said. “According to our consultants, the capital campaign will officially kick-off in the fall once we have mobilized community volunteers, planned the campaign strategy and finalized our case statement for the project.”

Burns encourages people to volunteer. “This will prove to be a quality facility that will provide great opportunities for the entire area and we will need willing hands to help, he said. Contact City Clerk/Administrator Jennifer Feely at 507-725-3450 if you are interested in volunteering in any capacity.”