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Hoyt Park in line for $1.5 million facelift

Funding for improvements could be shot in the arm for efforts to open pool

Oct. 14, 2009

County Executive Scott Walker's proposed budget could make quite a splash in Wauwatosa as it allocates $1.5 million to spruce up Hoyt Park with projects that would complement a local group's efforts to construct a new pool there.

The money would be used for support infrastructure, such as lighting, demolition of the existing dilapidated pool house, and parking lot and walking path improvements, said Denise Lindberg, president of Friends of Hoyt Park and Pool.

"It's a huge assistance," she said. "You don't want a beautiful new jewel sitting in the park that is such a wreck."

Lindberg attended the County Board's Finance and Audit Committee this week as members discussed the proposed 2010 budget. County Supervisor Jim "Luigi" Schmitt, who represents Wauwatosa and is a committee member, said the Hoyt Park improvements will likely remain in the budget.

"It has an excellent chance to pass," he said.

The full County Board will make the final decision on the budget in November.

Fundraising efforts continue

The county money would not go to the actual pool construction project, and the Friends are continuing with a $8 million capital campaign, Lindberg said.

In 2007, former Wauwatosa High School graduates John and Tashia Morgridge donated $4 million in challenge grants from their foundation. Several community events, such as a sporting goods resale have also brought in some money.

The Friends continue to work hard behind the scenes to find donors willing to give large amounts, Lindberg said. The economy has slowed, but not stopped the progress, she said.

Walker said the group's hard work was a factor in his decision to allocate the money for Hoyt Park. A public-private partnership could help propel the project, he said.

"This would give the last push to raise those last dollars," Walker said. "(Donors) need to know this is for real."

Vandalism still a problem

Park and pool improvements would likely cut down on vandalism and the amount of time sheriff's deputies spend attending to problems.

On Friday night, someone kicked through a panel in the bathhouse changing areas. Graffiti, smoke damage and broken windows are just some of the other crimes that have occurred at the former pool site since December.

Schmitt said the pool area has become blighted, but he recalls a time when his four children spent many summer days cooling off in the chlorinated waters.

"Future generations should have the same opportunity," he said.

The project also fits into Walker's vision to move from deep-well pools, which cost a lot but attract increasingly fewer people, and focus more on aquatic centers and splash pads. The Friends' plans call for zero-depth entry, a water slide and water play structures.

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