Harrisburg Aquatics Foundation: A community effort to build a pool

Eye on KELOLAND

HARRISBURG, S.D. (KELO) — The Harrisburg community has seen tremendous growth over the past decade, with several major housing developments currently under construction. Now several community members are coming together to help grow some of the amenities offered in town, like a summer staple that’s still missing in Harrisburg.

Even when the temperature rises, Krystal and Liam Abrahamson love to get outside.

“We come to the park because its close to home and its getting out of the house,” Krystal said.

But after 12 summers of raising kids in Harrisburg, Krystal is one of many local parents who would love another option for a local outing.

“On hot days like this, it would be amazing to go to a pool,” Krystal said.

Bridget Bennett: Can you do that in town here?

“No we would have to go to Tea or Wild Water West,” 14-year-old Harrisburg resident Conner Weber said.

Families in Harrisburg have always had to find swimming options out of town.

“We do commute to Sioux Falls to go to the parks and stuff, but it would be so nice to stay local, and have our own pools to go to, our own parks to go to,” Harrisburg mom Erin Weber said.

It’s a dream that city leaders have shared for many years.

“A pool has definitely been a part of the city’s plan for a long time. Years ago, they started fundraising for it and just came up short,” Harrisburg Mayor Derick Wenck said.

But that previous effort did raise enough money for the city to purchase the land for a future pool, at the site of Harrisburg’s master plan for Central Park.

“Where we’re at doesn’t look like much right now, but its definitely developing,” Harrisburg Park Board member Taylor Berg said.

From new baseball parks to an all inclusive playground, concert area, sledding hill and pool, the city has a grand vision for adding some new recreation options for families in Harrisburg.

“I’ve lived here for 15 years; the whole city just seems like its nothing but young kids running around, every street you drive down at night, it’s a young kid going here, going there, riding their bikes up and down,” Wenck said.

Wenck says those kids are the main motivation for building in a local option.

“Not only does it give kids things to do, it also creates jobs for those kids that are living here in Harrisburg, you know, to be life guards, to work at the concession stands,” Wenck said.

“Then we wouldn’t have to drive all the way out me and my brothers could ride our bikes out here instead and we could invite our friends,” Conner Weber said.

A place where the people of Harrisburg…

“Can all come together as a community,” Erin Weber said.

That’s exactly what one group is doing now, founding the Harrisburg Aquatics Foundation, a community effort to make a Harrisburg pool a reality.

“We started in February, we had our first meeting in March,” Jenna Ayotte with the Harrisburg Aquatics Foundation said. “We got a lot of positive feedback, people are excited that somebody is really focused on making sure that a pool is something that’s being talked about.”

Jenna Ayotte is one of several Harrisburg parents volunteering on the foundation.

“We’re really focused on fundraising, that’s our biggest goal Is fundraising, but with that we really need to know what the community wants, our goal is to figure out what does the Harrisburg community want for a pool, are we looking at a splash pad, an indoor facility, an outdoor facility, and then raise the funds to make it happen,” Ayotte said.

The group is currently in the planning phase and is gathering community input so they can put together a plan with the city.

“The city needs to know what the community wants,” Ayotte said.

“It takes more than just city staff to make this pool a reality, it takes the whole community. We’re going to eventually have to have the community support if we’re going to pass a bond on it some day,” Mayor Wenck said.

While it’s too soon to know exactly how much it will cost this community foundation is committed to making their summer dream a reality.

“We’re just in the beginning phases, we just know what our goal is,” Ayotte said.

“Everything costs money, but we’re not afraid of that, we know everything is going to cost money, and we’re willing to see it through to the end to get the community what it wants, a pool,” Ayotte said.

“This is a come together team here in Harrisburg and when things need to be done, the Harrisburg community definitely tries to make it happen,” Berg said.

All to help community kids like Liam find another reason to smile.

“If we had a pool in Harrisburg we would go all the day,” Liam Abrahamson said.

Community members are encouraged to share your input, get involved with the Harrisburg Aquatics Foundation or make a donation to the effort to bring a pool to Harrisburg. You can send a donation to @Harrisburg-Aquaticsfoundation or a donation can also be mailed to the Harrisburg Aquatics Foundation, PO box 304 Harrisburg, SD 57032.

If you have any questions or would like to reach out to the foundation you can email them at Harrisburgaquaticsfoundation@gmail.com

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