Fairfield halfway to gym and pool funding goal

Fairfield Parks and Recreation Department

The City of Fairfield is one step closer to having a new pool and gymnasium.

The Parks and Recreation Department is seeking $10 million to fund the project. A finance committee has raised $3.3 million on top of a $3 million city bond. Carl A. Nelson Company of Burlington is putting plans together for the gymnasium project, which will go on a three-acre lot on the westside of the Fairfield Parks and Rec Dept. Burbank Aquatics out of Platteville, WI is has the pool part of the project ready to go.

"This is going to benefit a lot of people," Derik Wulfekuhle, Director of the Parks and Recreation Department said. "So this is definitely a worthy project in my mind."

The pool will be in Ob Nelson Park located on the southside of town. Wulfekuhle says there hasn't been a gym built in Fairfield since the 1960s. They are shooting to start the project by the end of the month. He estimates the pool and gymnasium will take eight months to a year to complete.

Another funding option the Parks and Rec Department is looking at is a $1 million contribution from Jefferson County. The county doesn't have an extra $1 million available, so the funds would come from the local option sales tax.

Right now, 80% of the revenue from LOST goes to property tax relief and 20% goes to bridges and culverts. The Board of Supervisors said they won't touch the funding for roads and bridges, but they would take 16% of the 80% designated for property taxes for the pool and gym. The money would be paid back at a rate of $100,000 a year for ten years.

However, the supervisors are leaving the final say to the 4,500 residents of Jefferson County.

"Sometimes as boards of supervisors, we're elected to make decisions, but this is one of the decisions I'd like the taxpayers to tell me how they really think because I'm not sure," said Dick Reed, of the Jefferson County Board of Supervisors. "And if you're not for sure, you don't want something that's forced on a person, you would like the majority of people to tell you - do you want to fund this project?"

The supervisors are looking at August 6th to put the funding option to a vote.

Reed said one way of looking at the situation is that a new pool and rec center would likely bring in visitors from surrounding areas, who in turn spend money in town and contribute to the local option sales tax. So the effects of designating money from the LOST funds might not be felt so hard by Jefferson County taxpayers.