Community members fight for future of Bayfield Rec. Center

Community members fight for future of Bayfield Rec. Center
Published: Apr. 18, 2022 at 6:06 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 18, 2022 at 7:24 PM CDT
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BAYFIELD, WI. (KBJR) - Bayfield Wisconsin may sit on the shores of Lake Superior, but according to locals, one of the best swimming spots in the area is actually inside at The Bayfield Recreation Center.

“It’s really the only public pool and indoor pool between here and Duluth, said Jacob Kaiser, executive director for Recreation and Fitness Resource.

Recreation and Fitness Resources, also called RFR, is a non-profit that operates the club.

According to Kaiser, the club offers many different fitness and community activities for kids and adults.

“What’s unique here is that we have a saline pool,” said Kaiser.

Steven Pratt travels in from Washburn to use that pool almost every day.

“I swim two hours a day here,” said Pratt, a recreation center member.

According to Pratt, he has back problems and swimming is really the only way for him to exercise.

But that pool and the other community activities offered at the rec center may be in jeopardy.

Although the club is operated by RFR, the building is owned by the Bayfield School District.

School leaders said they’re thinking about possibly selling it at some point, but that is a conversation still in its early discussion stages.

“Right now we’re just gathering information to try to figure out what the next step would be for us,” said Joel Shilman, Supervisor of Buildings and Grounds for the Bayfield School District.

According to Shilman, he recognizes the importance the rec center has for Bayfield.

“We understand that that building is very important to the community, and has been with the community for a very long time,” said Shilman

But Shilman said as a school system, they have to consider how owning the building benefits students.

“We have to consider what the value, the educational value is to the students in the district and what that brings to us,” said Shilman.

Kaiser said RFR can’t afford to buy the building and moving is not an option, so he’s hoping a solution will present itself.

“It’s just really important to be able to provide that opportunity for fitness for everybody in our community,” said Kaiser.

Right now, the rec center leases the building from the school district for $1 dollar a year.

The school system also provides the center with about $40-thousand dollars worth of maintenance to keep the building operable.

The school board is expected to have some of its first discussions about the future of the center at a meeting on April 25th.

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