City closes the book on 86-year Hefko Pool history
Construction bumped up on new aquatic center
By Hub City Times staff
MARSHFIELD – An 86-year era is coming to an abrupt end in the city of Marshfield. The common council voted on June 1 not to open Hefko Pool at all this summer, and instead bump up the construction timeline for a new aquatic center.
The council voted 9-1 in favor of keeping the pool shut down in the face of COVID-19, and instead saving those operational expenses by moving forward with an aquatic center project that is close to raising the needed funding for construction. Aldermen Ed Wagner cast the lone “no” vote. He wanted all of the aquatic center money in the bank before proceeding with the project.
Marshfield Parks & Recreation Director Justin Casperson laid out a scenario in which Hefko would cost the city more than its usual share of money to operate this summer, because of added regulations under COVID-19, not to mention lost revenue from a shortened season. He told the council the state would limit the pool to 25 percent of its capacity to maintain social distancing, and additional staff would be needed to routinely clean the locker rooms, plus monitor the numbers of people in the main pool and the separate wading pool.
The council found out last week that a major donor has secured naming rights for the new aquatic center, and Alderman Tom Witzel suspects the rest of the needed funds will come in once the shovels hit the dirt.
Had the Council not decided to close the pool now, the city was faced with the potential of losing this entire summer to COVID-19, and then losing next summer to the construction of the new aquatic center, meaning residents would be without any pool-related services until 2022. By deciding to close the pool now, Casperson said the city hopes to capitalize on a very competitive construction industry that is looking for projects.
The naming-rights donation brought the private fundraising total to $2.5 million, or 85 percent of the $3 million goal. That will be paired with $3.5 million which the city has committed to the project.
Barring unforeseen circumstances, the council’s decision means the end of an era for Marshfield – a pool that first opened in 1934 will never be used again.