June 3, 2022 – West Bend, WI – The City of West Bend received zero bids to fill in Regner Park Pond so it could move forward with a 3-foot wading pond. The Board of Public Works will review the information at the Monday, June 6, 2022 meeting.
Early word is the council will determine to close the pond this year and review options moving forward with regard to funding and hiring. District 4 alderman Randy Koehler is putting together a citizen committee to discuss development of an endowment fund to help with future financing and develop a better lifeguard hiring/training structure.
Monday’s meetings at West Bend City Hall, 1115 S. Main Street, begin at 6:25 p.m. There is a special interview meeting at 5 p.m. as candidates to fill the Dist. 8 aldermanic seat are interviewed. The meetings are opening to the public.
Story from May 27, 2022 – West Bend, WI – About 10 people attended the Thursday night West Bend Park and Rec Commission meeting and showed concern as the future of Regner Park Pond was discussed.
The city is debating whether to open the pond because it is having a difficult time finding lifeguard. One option discussed by the common council is to spend $100,000 to fill the pond and make it a 3-foot wading pond.
All of the people who spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting leaned strongly against spending money to fill the pond.
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Many referenced the history of the park and its importance to the community. Others addressed the worker shortage and thought a better approach to hiring and waiting a year could bring about change. A couple veteran lifeguards from the 1970s and 80s reminisced about what a great job it was when they were lifeguards, even though it paid $2.50 an hour.
There was some discussion about the harassment the young lifeguards take from parents and members of the public. One thought was to hire adults or ask for volunteers to help be mediators so the lifeguards can be focused on doing their job while someone else handles unruly kids or their parents.
After about 15 minutes of discussion Park & Rec Commission chairman Mike Staral said they would be working to effort more employees and a positive solution.
A majority on the commission who spoke were all in favor of coming up with some solution to keep the pond open. All were against filling in the pond. There was also agreement that the hiring situation was not unique to West Bend and other communities were experiencing the same thing.
“There are some people out there who want to help and work with it,” said Staral. “We need to remain positive.”
There was also discussion on why the city could not simply put-up signs that said “Swim at your own risk.”
A motion was made by Dist. 4 alderman Randy Koehler to close the Regner Park Pond for the 2022 summer and form an ad hoc committee made up of council members and citizens to come up with a plan for next year’s operation.
The motion was approved unanimously, and it will be presented to the common council at its next meeting June 6, 2022. The council will then determine how it wants to move forward.