Parents of the Girl Scouts summer swim team and representatives from the city council, and the Sleepy Eye Aquatic Center met Friday, April 12 to work out details of the future of the summer swim team.
Tentatively all parties were in agreement that the swim team program will be allowed to proceed this summer providing the swim team pay a rental fee of $10 per session or $100 for the year, plus $10 per lifeguard, hire their own coaches, present the city with the Girl Scouts insurance coverage policy and sign a waiver with the city.
"This is no longer a local swimming hole," said city council member and Park and Rec Board liaison Joann Schmidt. "This is an Aquatic Center which generates interest from around the area and brings many people to Sleepy Eye. There needs to be policies and regulations that govern this center."
This meeting comes on the heels of a city council meeting held Monday, April 8, in which parents of the swim team asked the council to support the program after learning that correspondence was sent to the Girl Scouts of River Valleys from aquatic center manager Sarah Hinderman thanking the organization for their years of sponsorship of the swim team, but declining to proceed with the program for the summer of 2013.
Hinderman explained in a recent interview that the Park and Rec department wanted to offer more Park and Rec activities at the pool that would include activities for boys as well as girls.
Hinderman went on to say that swimming lesson participation has been waning in previous years and it was decided this summer to reduce the number of sessions offered for swimming lessons and add additional activities in those time slots that were opened up with the reduced swimming lesson schedule.
This did not sit well with parents of swim team members.
"This is a very valuable program," said swim team parent Sara Heinrichs, who attended the council meeting and meeting with representatives from the city.
"The children who are in the program grow up to become lifeguards. It brings people to the community to see our pool who come back after competition to swim. I would hate to see it go away. It is by far our daughter's favorite thing about Sleepy Eye."
According to Sara Danzinger, public relations manager for Girl Scouts of Minnesota and Wisconsin River Valleys, the Girl Scouts have sponsored a swim team in Sleepy Eye for more than 10 years.
Danzinger wanted to clarify that it was never the case that the Girl Scouts organization cancelled the swim team program.
"We have always been interested in coordinating and sponsoring a swim team in Sleepy Eye," Danzinger said. "The City of Sleepy Eye has requested that we meet some criteria such as paying a fee per session and hiring the coaches, which is a very standard practice. Its like any other sports team renting a facility."
Page 2 of 2 - Danzinger said as for coaches, Girl Scouts River Valleys has always done the hiring. In the past pool management recommended people for the coaching positions. This year, the pool will share with the Girl Scouts organization the names of people who have expressed interest in coaching for the team and the Girl Scouts organization will contact those individual for possible interviews.
"They are not recommending individuals, simply sharing the names of people who are interested in being considered for the positions," Danzinger added.
However, questions arose that the swim team was cancelled due to a lawsuit filed in Brown County District Court on Dec. 27, 2012, involving two private parties and the Girl Scouts of Minnesota and Wisconsin River Valleys.
The law suit stems from an injury that happened at the Buttered Corn Days Parade between members of the swim team and their parade float in 2011.
"It wasn't the city or the rec department who cancelled the swim team, nor was it directly related to a lawsuit," said Schmidt.
"These are completely separate situations that happened to come to light at the same time," she added.