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Rec Center project begins

Construction is underway at the Recreation Center. The southern section of the facility will be upgraded with a new aquatic center, gymnastic center, wellness center and indoor playground. Construction is scheduled to be finished by summer 2021.

NEW ULM — A special groundbreaking ceremony was held for the Reinvest New Ulm (RENU) Recreation Center Project, Wednesday.

The Rec Center project was the largest of the RENU projects approved by voters during a special referendum in 2016.

The project includes a new pool area with zero-depth entry and water park amenities, a new strength and wellness center, new entry and an indoor playground. The project with all alternate add-ons costs $11.567 million. The construction project is expected to be complete next year.

Park and Recreation Director Tom Schmitz thanked all those who made the project possible, including the Park and Recreation Commission, RENU Committee, New Ulm voters who approved the referendum, the Minnesota Senate, House and Gov. Tim Walz for approving the sales tax funding, and the Oversight Committee, construction managers RJM Construction and aquatic architects JLG Architects.

Schmitz said the regional improvements will be enjoyed for generations to come.

A special groundbreaking ceremony was held to honor the start of the Recreation Center improvement project. A group of citizens and construction representatives attended the ceremony as construction crews began the early work of improving the southern section of the Rec. Center. From left, New Ulm Chamber of Commerce CEO Michael Looft, Park and Rec. Director Tom Schmitz, New Ulm Building Inspector Ellwood Zabel, RJM Construction rep Kris Hahn, JLG Aquatics rep Jill Winkler, State Rep. Paul Torkelson, State Sen. Gary Dahms, City Councilor Lisa Fischer, New Ulm Mayor Bob Beussman, City Councilor Les Schultz and City Manager Chris Dalton.

State Sen. Gary Dahms praised the project. He said the project spoke volumes of the community and the citizens to approve it.

State Rep. Paul Torkelson said an investment like this is fun to see and without voters, this would not have happened. Torkelson acknowledged a pandemic was an unusual time for projects, but said this project was looking to the future and he believes the community would get through these difficult times.

City Councilor Les Schultz thanked those who supported the project four years ago. “When people said they wanted a waterpark, 70% voted yes,” he said. “This is for our community and the people visiting.”

Schmitz thanked everyone again and invited them to return when the project was complete a year from now.

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