Merrill Aquatic Center fundraising kicks off
In 1968, the City of Merrill completed the construction of a new swimming pool in Stange’s Park to replace the swimming beach that had been on the banks of the Prairie River in Stange’s Park for decades. The pool, completed in 1968, was funded primarily through donations.
By 2012, the pool, despite ongoing maintenance, had developed serious leaks, was experiencing serious mechanical problems, and did not meet any ADA access requirements. After the 2012 season, the Merrill Parks & Recreation Commission decided to permanently close the 44-year-old pool and work toward a new facility. It was decided that this new facility would be an aquatic center rather than just a pool. The aquatic center will serve Merrill residents, as well as county residents of the surrounding area and visitors to Council Grounds State Park.
After determining that it would be significantly more costly to build the aquatic center in Stange’s Park, it was decided to locate the new facility at the Merrill Area Recreation Center. The aquatic center will feature a 6-lane competition lap pool, a diving well with 1 meter and 3 meter diving boards, climbing wall, basketball, tethered floatables, zero-depth entry area, 10 vertical spray heads, 3-wide family slide, splash structure with 5 tipping buckets, play structure with kiddie slide, water gun, 2 water curtains, fountains, and a tipping bucket, in-water seating with shade cover, shaded seating on the deck area, and 2-flume waterslide with runouts. The aquatic center will have amenities for all ages from toddlers to senior citizens.
The estimated cost of the aquatic center is approximately $4.5 million, with $4 million committed by a very generous anonymous donor. The remaining $500,000 must be raised from other donors. We are kicking off a fundraising campaign for the balance of the amount needed. Park City Credit Union is the first corporate sponsor to step up and has offered to fund the climbing wall. Park City CEO/President Val Mindak stated that they wanted to be involved in this project as part of their long-term commitment to youth and the city as a whole.
We will be setting up donation points around the city for smaller cash donations. Any business or individual wanting to donate toward a specific amenity should contact City Administrator David Johnson or Parks & Recreation Director Dan Wendorf. We need to get the community behind this project to bring it to fruition. This aquatic center is a quality of life issue for our community. It is this type of facility that makes Merrill better able to attract new residents and retain the residents we have today.