Editor's note: This guest column was written by Leigh Shebeck, executive director at the PACC.

On July 8, I walked into the PACC for my first day as executive director. Sitting on the Battle Lake Economic Authority, I knew that Perham has a history of doing big projects that can greatly benefit the community, but more importantly have the ability to attract young people and families to Perham.

As the executive director I needed to nail down what was done and what needs to be done. As a business owner the first to do is look at each area of the PACC in terms of a “mini” business. Where can we improve? Where can we change the way we operate to financially support ourselves?

We as a community need to understand the impact that the PACC has. It has been in this community for 30 years and, over time, we can lose our focus on how important something is.

Here are some examples of how important this facility is (as of Sept. 26):

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  • 71,712 member check-ins since Feb. 14. (This does not include rentals, school use, Boys and Girls Club, birthday parties, roller skating and more.)
  • 10,854 youth check-ins (ages 13-17).
  • 1,009 aquatic day passes.
  • 2,168 nonaquatic day passes.
  • 2,140 people used the pool Aug. 1-13 (slowest time of the year for the PACC).
  • 4 major trade shows a year.

The current aquatics pool is a huge benefit not only to the community but to the PACC, the Perham schools and club programs.

Having an additional aquatics center would allow our members to utilize the water more. Programming wise, we are currently limited because the LAPS (swim club) and the school swim teams use our pool for their programs.

I am not a swimmer, but one of the best things about swimming at the school or club level is that no matter your talent level, you will always swim. You don’t sit on a bench and maybe get in the game, you are involved.

Our swim teams have to travel to compete. They do not have the advantage of “home games” like most of the sports teams.

Those first few days I had people telling me that maintaining a pool was impossible. How could we pay for the maintenance on the Aquatics Center addition which will include eight lanes, 25-yard length competition/lap pool, diving capabilities, seating for 500 and a therapy pool? I was told no one in the country is building pools, yet Parkers Prairie built a pool, the City of Fergus Falls has been working on plans for building an outdoor pool complex and are getting closer. So I sat down with our independent accountant and wanted the real numbers on the cost to operate our current pool.

Fact: It cost the PACC only $64,060.65 to operate our current pools in 2018. The current pools are 30 years old, old filtration systems, old chemical systems, the roof, heating and air and insulation are 30 years old and not in good working order. The current facility will be getting upgrades and new state of the art mechanical and pool filtration systems, insulation and residing all of which will be energy efficient and lower our cost to operate the pool, and the facility as a whole.

By upgrading the current facilities mechanical and pool systems, insulating and re-siding, we will make the PACC more energy efficient and cut down our overall expenses. The additional aquatics option will allow us to expand our current aquatic programming. The play land, child watch and re-arranging how we operate internally allows us to maintain the level of service that our members have come to expect over the last 30 years, and expands other areas where our members currently have limited use.

Having broken down all aspects of the overall project as it stands today, I believe it would not only work, but thrive! It would provide more opportunities to an already progressive community like Perham in all areas of business, community, health care and education keeping us moving for the next 30-plus years!

Please call me at the PACC 218-346-7222 for more information on the project.