Vermillion, South Dakota

It was time for a change. After more than 45 years in operation, the Prentis Park community swimming pool had outlived its functional lifespan and no longer met the needs of a growing, vibrant community.

In 2011 a committee was established to investigate options and provide the Vermillion City Council with recommendations as to the type of swimming pool that would best fit the community’s needs. Since then, the old, outdated pool has been demolished and a new, modern pool featuring a tube slide, a lazy river, zero-depth entry, a diving board, and a water walk has been built in its place.

This project is unique largely due to the creative, mutually beneficial strategy that was developed for the project’s major source of funding. Along with a combination of grants, bond proceeds, General Fund reserves, and private donations, the new Prentis Plunge community pool was funded through the implementation of a 5% municipal malt beverage markup on the wholesale cost of malt beverages and freight.  

The ordinance creating this markup was unanimously approved by all nine members of the Vermillion City Council. A subsequent measure was adopted by Vermillion residents and the issue went to the ballot box. The ordinance was then placed before the voters for a final determination and was passed by a count of 67% to 37% on June 30, 2015 and the ordinance officially took effect on July 1, 2015.

The city was successful in getting the support of State lawmakers to close a loophole that would have allowed establishments that sell malt beverages via a liquor license to avoid paying this markup. As a result, all establishments that sell malt beverages within city limits are required to pay the 5% markup on the wholesale cost of malt beverages and freight. This includes all bars, restaurants, and convenience stores, as well as chain supermarkets. This 5% markup affects only a portion of Vermillion residents and allowed for a source of revenue without increasing or introducing any additional forms of taxation.

In 2016 the markup generated revenue of about $116,000. Under the Vermillion City ordinance adopted in 2015, the revenue can only be used for parks improvement. For the next 20 years the markup revenue will be used to pay for approximately half of debt service for the pool project.

City Manager John Prescott was instrumental in all stages of project development, implementation and the pool’s overarching success. He started by bringing stakeholders together to form the initial review committee charged with assessing project feasibility. Throughout each stage Mr. Prescott provided transparency through regular updates and open lines of communication with residents, City Council, contractors, and city staff. He coordinated tasks and worked closely with city departments, particularly, Finance, Engineering, Parks and Recreation, and Street.

The Prentis Plunge pool was officially opened for business in early June of 2017. On opening day an estimated 700 people went swimming at the new pool. In the first week alone, the pool saw more than 4,000 come through its gates. This project has significantly strengthened the community’s image, reputation, and sense of place. Not only are Vermillion residents coming to swim, but also members of surrounding communities. As a result, there has been more activity at the park than there has been in years, creating a safe, family-atmosphere for children to go when school is not in session. With an increased presence in local media and state media alike, the Prentis Plunge will promote and support economic development within the Vermillion community.



Meet the Manager

John Prescott

City Manager

John Prescott is a dedicated voice for the community as the City Manager of Vermillion. He truly appreciates the opportunity to interact daily with different people in the community.

Prescott spent his childhood in Sioux City, IA. He moved to South Dakota after working for a period in Minnesota and Nebraska. Prescott attended college at the University of Northern Iowa and received his Master’s in Public Administration from the University of Nebraska – Omaha. After college, Prescott worked as an Assistant to the City Manager in Kearney, NE before heading to Vermillion in 2005 to take the helm as City Manager. Prescott’s prior position as an Assistant City Manager helped tremendously in preparing him to serve in his current position.

When he’s not in the office, Prescott enjoys spending time with his family. He especially enjoys attending his children’s various sporting events.