Proposed public pool facility a long-needed amenity for Waunakee

The Wednesday Society

The Waunakee village government has been working on a study to finally construct some sort of public pool facility in town. It will take time to put a referendum, reports, and designs together (as well as choose a site), but Waunakee needs an outdoor aquatic facility for all. First of all, most communities around us, including Middleton, Sun Prairie, Sauk Prairie, and Lodi all have pools. There have been a number of efforts to build a pool in Waunakee before, but none have been fully successful. A citizens’ group called The Wave lobbied from 1989 to 1992 to create an outdoor aquatic center. An April 2001 referendum for a pool on Woodland Drive failed by nearly a 2:1 margin. Since then, really nothing has happened other than the construction of small private pools in a number of Don Tierney’s subdivisions. However, those do not quite fill Waunakee’s pool needs. Not every neighborhood has its own private pool, creating an unfortunate situation of haves and have-nots. According to pool study consultant Blake Theisen, “fifty percent of the Waunakee area does not have [access to] a pool.” If we build another pool, it needs to be a place that brings the community together rather than split it up into smaller facilities. Secondly, those pools aren’t that big. Space and time is limited for group classes and lap swimming. Our current high school pool can’t meet these needs because it is already being used most of the time. An outdoor facility could offer much more availability and amenities, such as water slides, a sandy beach, and a playground. 

At a meeting last August, the consultants presented four different options: a splash pad, community pool, regional aquatic facility (Sun Prairie or Middleton Pool-like), or a regional facility with a movable dome, so the facility could be used year-round. Land acreage needed ranges from less than one acre to around seven acres. One benefit of a regional facility is that it would have the size and amenity potential to even draw patrons from surrounding communities. 

The biggest question other than the facility type is the location. Most of the centrally-located sites are too small to fit both the pool and a parking lot. One potential option would be the proposed Kilkenny West development. A large park is already planned that could accommodate a pool. While not really centrally-located, it is located at the intersection of two major roads that lead to other areas of the village: Highway Q and Woodland Drive. These roads can handle the new traffic created by a pool.

Overall, Waunakee is long overdue for a public pool to call its own. Pay attention over the coming months on referendum and planning information and become informed on the available options. To get involved with the pool process (they would like to hear from youth), contact the village Community Services Director Sue McDade at [email protected].