Consensus: At least we're getting a pool

At least we're getting a pool. That's how many people reacted after the Mitchell City Council's decision Monday to build a new indoor pool at the city's existing Recreation Center rather than next to Dakota Wesleyan University's as-yet unbuilt we...

Rec Center
The Mitchell Recreation Center will be the site of the city's new indoor pool, the City Council decided Monday. (Daily Republic file photo)

At least we're getting a pool.

That's how many people reacted after the Mitchell City Council's decision Monday to build a new indoor pool at the city's existing Recreation Center rather than next to Dakota Wesleyan University's as-yet unbuilt wellness center on the south side of the school's campus in Mitchell.

"From the standpoint that a decision has been rendered and we can now move forward on formulating the plan to fund and finance the pool, it is good," Mayor Ken Tracy told The Daily Republic in a phone interview on Tuesday. "Obviously, there is some people that are disappointed that the pool won't be located at Dakota Wesleyan, but we will have to move on."

The council chose last month to pursue the most expensive of three options for the project presented by an architect: a 22,600-square-foot facility for about $8.1 million, which includes a 25-meter by 25-yard competition pool and a separate leisure pool with a zero-depth entry.

In the past, city officials have said there would not be a significant cost difference between the two locations. Dusty Rodiek, the city's parks and recreation director, told the council members that additional staff would be necessary if the pool were built at Dakota Wesleyan.


Rodiek said throughout the entire process of deciding on an indoor pool, he was impressed with how the community supported the Mitchell Rec Center.

"The loyalty to the facility and what we are trying to do there has really impressed me," Rodiek said. "The pool is very important to the Mitchell Rec Center and it has been a part of the vision of improving the Rec Center for a while."

Rodiek added while there are no design plans in place yet, there is only one direction the pool can be added to the facility -- on the south side of the building.

The council voted 6-2 in favor of asking the Mitchell Board of Education to transfer the ownership of enough land near the Recreation Center to build the pool at that location, as well as give the city permission to move ahead with planning the pool before the ownership of the land is transferred.

"I think the majority of the people realize, that first and foremost, there is a need for an indoor pool, regardless of where it is located," Tracy said. "The fact that it will be at the Mitchell Rec Center is something we will just get used to."

Mel Olson, Dave Tronnes, Randy Doescher, Marty Barington, Dan Allen and Jeff Smith voted in favor of the motion. Steve Rice and Susan Tjarks voted in opposition.

The council, which typically meets at 7:30 p.m., started the meeting for 6 p.m. to allow more time for discussion and public input about the proposed locations for the pool.

"I think Dakota Wesleyan would have been a good site for the pool, but the Rec Center is probably the best choice at this time," DWU Athletic Director Curt Hart said. "I would have loved to have seen the pool built at DWU, but I respect the City Council's decision to build it at the Mitchell Rec Center. That was a tough decision, and I think it is a good thing the city of Mitchell is getting an indoor pool."


Mitchell Aquatic Club Board President Ryan Huber said at the end of the day he is happy that an indoor pool is being built in the city of Mitchell.

"If you asked 100 percent of the people in Mitchell, I bet 50 percent would want it at the Mitchell Rec Center and 50 percent would have wanted it at Dakota Wesleyan. But for me, I didn't have a preference, I just wanted water for our kids in Mitchell," Huber said. "It's been a chore hosting our indoor swimming meets in other towns and it's a chore to hold practices at, basically, an old parking garage with an above-ground pool in it."

MAC has hosted indoor swimming events in both Sioux Falls and Pierre in the past, and Huber said having hosted indoor pool events at two different facilities helped MAC understand how a quality indoor pool can benefit the swimming organization and the community of Mitchell.

"Just the idea of having an indoor swimming venue has increased our swimming membership this year," Hubers said. "Hosting a meet at the pool in Pierre, which will be a lot like the indoor pool built in Mitchell, helped teach us how to host and run a quality swimming event at a beautiful venue."

When the Mitchell Middle School's pool closed in 2009, it left the club without a permanent home. After that, members of the club traveled back and forth to Huron for months to practice, until a temporary location was opened on North Main Street, across from the Mitchell Recreation Center.

In 2010, the club's temporary indoor pool collapsed and sent thousands of gallons of water out onto the street and into nearby businesses. The club used insurance money to buy another pool, which isn't regulation size and can't be used for meets.

The club hosts at least one meet during the summer season at the Mitchell Aquatic Center.

Tracy added that the indoor pool will enhance the quality of life for all of the citizens of Mitchell, young and old.


"I think there is an opportunity for anyone and everyone to take advantage of it," Tracy said. "I am looking forward to the day when everyone can use and utilize the pool."

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