PONTIAC (MCT) — There is no apparent opposition to a movement among Pontiac residents to build a water park in Pontiac, but city officials say the problem is finding the money to finance it.
“It would be a major project,” said City Administrator Bob Karls, estimating the cost at $5 million to $6 million. “But even after you get past that (construction cost), there are operational expenses, which can be pretty significant.”
On several occasions, Andy Ferguson, a spokesman for Pontiac Organizing Outdoor Leisurely Swimming, a group hoping to bring an outdoor facility to Pontiac, has approached city officials to promote the concept. POOLS has more than 1,200 followers on Facebook.
“It started out as a simple quote on my Facebook page after a hot day wishing I had a pool to go to,” he said. “Within a few minutes, I had about 40 different comments agreeing with me. Someone said something about ‘Quit complaining and do something about it,’ and so that’s what I’m doing.”
The city’s only public pool is an indoor facility at Pontiac Township High School.
“An indoor pool is fine, but when it’s summertime and sunny, it would be nice to have something outdoors as well,” Karls said.
Last year, the city applied for a grant with the Department of Natural Resources to add an outdoor splash park to the area adjacent to the indoor pool. The grant was denied.
“The financing is the problem with this and always has been,” Karls said. “This is a topic that has been around for years in Pontiac. But it always comes back to the funding issues.”
In 2004, the city met with a Platteville, Wis., company to discuss a water park. The cost estimate at that time was around $2 million.
After the grant was denied last year, Pontiac Mayor Bob Russell said the city would continue to look into funding options.
“This is a project that is designed to improve the wellbeing of our citizens and community,” said Pontiac resident Pat Laughlin. “We have a good start on this and Andy is the perfect guy to lead this movement because he doesn’t get discouraged.”
Ferguson said he doesn’t expect anything to happen quickly, but still has fond memories of the Camp Humiston Pool, built in 1925 in Chautauqua Park. It was closed in 2003.
“A lot of us who grew up around here remember having fun at that pool and it would be great if the kids of today could have the same type of memories,” he said. “We’re serious about this. We are not going to let this issue just fade away.”
Karls said he doesn’t disagree with anything the POOLS group has started.
“But with this economic climate, finding the funding to build the facility, and then operating after it is open, is always difficult,” Karls said. “But we know it is a popular concept and will continue to look for ways to try and make it happen.”