1969 –1975 The North Side Community Council passed a resolution calling for a North Side swimming pool and community center. It took until 1974 to get the Madison Park Commissioners to recommend that the Mayor include a pool in his 1975 budget.
1989 – A pool study was completed and Warner Park was one of the sites recommended, along with Olin Turville to be one of three pools sites. City officials selected Olin Turville Park for the first pool …without the support of the neighborhoods… a big mistake. What they ended up with was the Preservation of Shoreland Parks Ordinance and no pool.
1994 – City Council member, Alder David Wallner, proposed that Madison build a large pool at Warner Park. On January 13, 1994 a meeting was held and the community, including people opposed to the Olin Turville pool, were very supportive of the Warner Pool. Mayor Soglin was willing to build the Warner pool and help raise money for it. The Northside Planning Council voted to endorse the Warner pool and did a feasibility study to see if they could raise the money to build the recreation center and the pool…they couldn’t do both … it was decided to do it in stages and that is where it sat for twenty years.
1994-2004 -The Warner pool was on hold until the Goodman Brothers offered the City $2 million for a pool. A 10–member pool committee recommended Franklin Field for the first pool and that a second pool would be built at Warner Park. The Circle of Friends (CoF) started raising funds for the Warner Pool. Mayor Cieslewicz put money in the City budget for the Warner Pool.
2008 – The pool was removed from the city budget. We knew if we wanted to get a pool built it would have to be done without City or County funds.
2015 – The City of Madison still doesn’t have any money in the budget for an Aquatic Health and Fitness Center that could be an economic generator for the Northside, the City of Madison, and Dane County. The CoF has proposed doing a financial feasibility study with the funds we have deposited with the Madison Parks Foundation. In order to move forward with the study we need a letter from the Mayor in support of the project based on the CoF raising the funds and showing the Aquatic Center will be self-supporting. If the report comes back that at this time it can’t be done without City funds we understand. To not try would be missing an opportunity to provide jobs, swimming lessons, rehab and fitness activities,that will be an asset to the entire community.
2016 –We continue to work on putting information together to build an Aquatic Health and Fitness Center that is self-supporting, without taxpayer’s dollars.
The Circle of Friends received a letter from Eric Knepp, the Park Superintendent, informing us that the Warner pool was not included in the Parks 2016 Capital budget or the Capital Improvement Program for the years 2017 to 2021. No funding was included on the Executive Budget for the Warner pool as well.
It didn’t come as a surprise. We have known for some time now that there would be little or no city money. We believe we can raise the funds to build the Aquatic Health & Fitness Center that will cover the operating expenses without any taxpayer’s dollars. We are convinced the community will support a center that is open year round providing healthy exercise, affordable swimming lessons for the children, a splash pad and competitive swimming. We are basing this on the large swimming community in Dane County and the success of the RecPlex in Pleasant Prairie, WI.
The Circle of Friends has the funds and a firm lined up to do a financial feasibility study to see how much can be raised and to get community input. We have requested a letter from the Mayor, stating his support to build an Aquatic Center at Warner contingent on it requiring no city subsidy, funds to cover the first few years of gaps in operating expenses until it reaches scheduling capacity and an endowment fund to cover any unexpected expenses.
Without the support of the Mayor we cannot do a successful feasibility study. No feasibility study, no pool for several more years.
The Warner Aquatic Center will make a huge economic impact on the Northside, the City of Madison and Dane County by hosting local and regional swim meets and providing year round jobs.