Marathon County is one step closer to a new warm water aquatic therapy pool, after the county board on Tuesday approved a 3.4 million bond to defray rebuilding costs.
Now, North Central Health Care has until March 1 to raise $3 million more to complete the pool project. If the money is not raised, NCHC will not receive the approved funds.
The board voted 32-3 in favor of the plan. Bill Miller, Jack Hoogendyk and Keith Langenhahn were the dissenting votes.
In the months leading up to the vote, county board members heard from dozens of residents and medical professionals who spoke up in support of the pool. Many said warm water therapy helps people with chronic pain and degenerative diseases, helping them stay mobile, independent, and less dependent on prescription opoids and other pain medications.
The pool first served about 100 people when first built in 1977. That number has swelled to more than 1,400 today. The pool differs substantially from traditional pools, such as the pools at YMCA locations, because the water is significantly warmer and the pool is handicapped accessible, with trained physical therapists supervising aquatic activity.
The current pool is at the end of its useful life and must be upgraded, or it will be forced to shut down.
The $6.4 million plan includes $400,000 in demolition costs for the current pool. If the money is successfully raised, the new pool is expected to be open in early 2020.