By Louis Hoglund

The campaign to build a new, modern pool and aquatic center faced a setback—but also received a boost from the Pelican Rapids city council.

The pool fundraising committee was crossing fingers for a grant from a special Department of Employment and Economic Development program—which was denied. 

This prompted a plea to the city council April 26. Pool committee members asked the city, and its taxpayers, to commit $2.75 million through tax abatement bonds. 

The council pledged to the project, after much discussion. But the entire pool project hinges on a requested $1.5 million from the state bonding bill—and there are no guarantees Pelican will be on the list when the 2022 legislative session ends this spring. 

“This is something we’ve talked about for a long time…We’ve kicked it around for as long as I’ve been on the council,” said Councilman Steve Strand. “We need to support these people (the pool committee) who have done all this work. 

Donors have contributed nearly $1.4 million in cash, explained Amy King, who spoke on behalf of the pool committee. 

“Those donors contributed on the basis of the design we presented,” said King, adding that the committee is reluctant to start reducing the scope of the project—because of donor and public expectations. 

Rising construction and material costs are an ongoing concern—further jeopardizing the project. 

“Inflation and increased costs do not make waiting and fundraising a good option,” stated the committee. “The cost of inflation will outpace fundraising efforts and the committee is unsure where to seek additional funding.” 

Snapshot of Pelican pool fundraising, financing 

Fundraising to build a new pool in Pelican has generated $1.54 million in cash, pledges and in-kind labor. 

Most recent construction cost estimate for the new pool and restroom-locker building:  $5.7 million. 

Pending action by the state legislature this month, Pelican could receive $1.5 million from the Minnesota state bonding bill. But that  source is uncertain, as competition for state bonding money is stiff.

The city committed $1.2 million to the project several years ago. 

Assuming the legislature came through with the $1.5 million, it would leave a “funding gap” of about $2.7 million. 

The Pelican City Council voted April 26 to approve the a $2.7 million financing plan—contingent on the state bonding money.  Assuming the $1.5 million in state bonding becomes a reality, the city of Pelican’s committment will total about $3.9 million. 

If Pelican does not receive funds from the state money, the pool committee and the city may end up back at the drawing board, possibly scaling back the project to cut construction costs. 

Cost to Pelican city taxpayers
Under a very preliminary plan for the city to bond $2.7 million for the swim pool and aquatic center, the estimated impact on local taxpayers would be as follows: 

Residential

$100,000 home …… $141 per year 
$200,0000 home …… $354 per year 
$300,000 home …… $568 per year 
$400,000 home…… $781 per year  

Commercial 
$200,000 commercial …… $637 per year
$500,000 commercial …… $1,812 per year 
$1 million commercial …… $3,771 per year 

This bonding scenario is based on a 20 year annual payment, at an interest rate of about 3.1 percent.