Perham City Council chambers were packed Monday night with residents showing support for a proposed aquatics expansion at the PACC.
City Attorney Dennis Happel gave an update at the council's regular meeting. The proposed aquatics expansion is a separate project from the PACC-Hub expansion.
The estimated cost of the aquatics project is $8 million, according to Happel.
Happel, sitting alongside KLN CEO Kenny Nelson told the council it’s amazing the outdated and inefficient pool at the PACC is still working.
The new pool would be 25 yards long, with eight lanes and seating for 500 people. Such a facility would have the potential to host large conference and section swim meets, according to Happel.
The existing PACC pool would then be retrofitted into a therapeutic pool, with shallow water and a temperature of 85 degrees.
A fundraising campaign led by Happel and Nelson has garnered $2.5 million from KLN, $200,000 from the Perham Rotary and $100,000 from the Perham Foundation. Happel said there are other significant amounts out there, including the hospital and Bremer Foundation.
Nelson told the board the project is a big deal, with more than 20 other people helping to raise money.
“Everyone in this room knows Perham is the most progressive town in Minnesota,” Nelson said.
Mayor Timothy Meehl expressed a desire to maintain what’s already working, because there’s no guarantee the city can bail out the project if it struggles in the future.
“It’s a big chunk we’re biting off,” Meehl said. “It’s worked in the past, hopefully it will work again.”
Perham resident Tina McDonald responded by saying no town around the area is like Perham.
“We have to go for it, to say this might not work isn’t the right way,” McDonald said. “It’s disheartening to hear that it’s too much for this community.”
Happel said he’s hoping to have fundraising pledges gathered by January but if the money isn’t there, it's back to square one.
“We’re going to strike while the iron is hot,” Happel said.