Chatfield officials dedicate community swimming pool


GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/CHATFIELD NEWS Members of the Chatfield City Council, pool design committee and lifeguard staff gather around the shallow end of the pool during the pool dedication ceremony held last Thursday, June 13. In front, from left, are Melissa Wolf, Breya Kobs, Teagan Allen, Maddie Clemens, Katie Dornack, Stephanie Bradt, Mike Urban and Alyssa Baum. In the second row are Beth Carlson, Brian Burkholder, Shari Hamann, Silja Erickson, Abby Nosbisch, Jaelyn Sprau, Mollie Henry and Paige Erickson. In the third row are Nathan Clarke, Ben Muller, Noah Friedrich, Dan Narveson, John McBroom, Russ Smith, Joel Young and Pam Bluhm.

GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/CHATFIELD NEWS Committee member Michelle Thompson takes her turn down the two-story waterslide.

GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/CHATFIELD NEWS The alligator is the place to be in the new Chatfield municipal swimming pool.
By: 
Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy

“S-W-I-M.”

That spells “J-O-Y.”

“Obviously, we’re here tonight to dedicate the new pool in Chatfield, and it’s made possible through a lot of hard work done by the people on the pool committee – Julie Henry, Michelle Thompson, Ed Harris, Greg LaPlante, Kari Friederichs, Kari Njos, Shari Hamann, Alesha Worden and Melissa Wolf – people who did so much work and had so much dedication to get us to where we are now,” said Chatfield Mayor Russ Smith, his toes nearly in the cool blue water of the zero-depth entry of Chatfield’s new swimming pool at the Chatfield Aquatic Center as he led the dedication of the center last Thursday, June 13.

The hard work and dedication of which he spoke contrasted the chill summertime vibe that floated across the pool, from the splash pad by the little blue slide in the children’s corner to the two-story waterslide that towers above the cool of the pool. None of it would have become reality had it not been for the city hiring Burbach Aquatics to advise the city council and the pool committee, which formed at the request of the council in early 2016. It was at that time when the old swimming pool that had served Chatfield’s littlest paddlers to its senior swimmers was deemed too difficult to maintain and repair.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held last August on the grounds of the Chatfield Public High School, near the intersection of Highway 52 and Union Street (Olmsted County Road 10).

The pool complex includes a bathhouse, approximately 6,300 square feet of water surface with swimming lanes, water features, a one-meter diving tower, zip line, floatables, a 22-foot-tall slide, and more.

Burbach Aquatics, Inc., of Platteville, Wis., engineered the pool. Benike Construction of Rochester completed the general construction, while Ricchio, Inc., of Gurnee, Ill., constructed the pool facility portion of the project. Fraser Construction of Rochester demolished the former pool. Various subcontractors from the area were also utilized to complete the project.

Contractors worked all through the bitter winter, even as windchills and actual temperatures fell to -60 and mail service was stopped due to cold and blizzard conditions, and by spring, there was the almost-visible promise of being able to strip off layers and layers of winter for swim trunks or a two-piece and take a daredevil running leap off the diving board. Spouts, sprayers and slides were put through final test runs before the pool opened on Thursday, June 6, awaiting the official dedication this past Thursday evening.

Smith spoke over the music coming from the PA speakers and the kids excited to jump in. “Our city maintenance crew, Brian Burkholder…they worked hard to keep the old pool in good shape, and now for Brian and the crew, there’s a lot more work. But we want to thank the city council, the pool committee and the people in town who voted for this new pool. I took a walk around the pool the other day and all the fabulous things it has, but there’s something missing…not a thing, but a someone. I don’t know if you knew him, but Jeff Buss was always a fixture at the old pool. He had so much joy just being in the water. We can dedicate a lot of things, but I hope that when you get in this pool, you have as much joy being in the water as Jeff did.”

Following the formal dedication, committee members Henry and Thompson each took a christening trip down the waterslide.

Henry commented, after her turn down the slide, that it was exciting, a relief and a thrill to see that which the community had come together to design, fund and open.

“It feels great to see this done. I live by the school, and I’d drive by every day and see it – so it was fun to watch the progress. It’s definitely an accomplishment,” she said. “I was up here this last weekend, and it was packed. There were kids and families enjoying the new pool. There was a lot of teamwork involved – and definitely and obviously, we couldn’t have done it without the community voting for it.”

Behind her, a pile of girls attempted to claim a place on the floating alligator in the middle of the pool, falling off and clambering back on the slippery green island with big grins on their sun-bathed faces.

The Chatfield Aquatic Center is located at 107 Union St. NE, Chatfield. The pool house phone number is 507-867-3509, and Melissa (Hurley) Wolf is pool manager.