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Carolina Beach Council To Appoint Aquatic Center Committee

Managing Editor

NEW HANOVER CTY - Last month the Carolina Beach Town Council voted to move forward with a new community pool adjacent to the Town's recreation center behind Town Hall on 7th Street.
Based on information presented to the Council at their September meeting, the initial capital expenses would likely total $737,500 for an eight-lane, 25-yard pool with shallow area and deep well. Of that total, pool construction would total $257,500 and other items including an auto sanitization system, locker room and admin facility and “year-around cover bubble”, lighting, landscaping and other related costs would total the $737,500.
The project would be financed at a municipal interest rate of 3% over 20 years based on 12 monthly payments per year.
The project would be paid for by user fees. An annual family pass would likely cost $75. The information sent to Council indicates anticipated 1,250 season pass holders would bring in $93,750 a year. Visitor passes would bring in $15,000 a year. Other uses such as water aerobics instruction, swimming lessons, county school swim team lease, scuba diving classes and other uses would generate a total of $235,750 a year.
The average annual cost to the Town is indicated at $9,157 a year.
A zero entry shallow area for rehabilitation, for kids to play and for handicap accessibility would allow access the pool without having to step down. A separate "deep well" would be used for diving instruction.
The Council voted in September to appoint a committee to aid in moving the project forward. They also voted to allocate up to $30,000 for design and site planning.
At the Council's upcoming October 9, meeting the Council will consider appointing the committee.
Town Manager Tim Owens explained to the Council earlier this week, "I believe that one committee would work and appointments should be made of residents that have some knowledge of each area (construction, operations, and programming)."
Owens explained in his memo to Council for the upcoming meeting, he has met with multiple pool professionals to discuss design and programming and better understand what must occur to have a successful project. They also began reviewing cost estimates for construction and operation of the facility.
Owens said they've met with three architects to receive proposals for schematic design, design development, construction document completion, bids documents, construction administration and documentation.
Owens said the next steps are to select an architectural firm as the coordinator for the project.
That firm would begin design, site plan layout of buildings and equipment, parking, and the pool itself. Owens explained, "Once the Town has agreed to a design layout, the firm would move into design development."
Owens outlined a detailed "construction document phase" saying afterwards the Town would have better cost estimates for construction. The outcome being a full set of construction drawings and specifications for the entire project.
At that point, the firm would create "bid documents" detailing the project. Once a firm cost is established, the Town will have to approve a "resolution of necessary findings" to move forward for financing. The Town will have to simultaneously receive bids for the financing and submit an application to the North Carolina Local Government Commission for approval.
The project would be put out for bid by contractors for 30 to 45 days. Once all the bids are in, the Council would have to award a bid to the lowest and most responsible bidder.
Owens explained after that, the Local Government Commission (LGC) application would be reviewed and potentially approved. He explained, "If the cost of the project is greater than one million dollars, there is a 2-tiered LGC review process."
Owens explained once that process is completed, "And bonds submitted to the Town, a notice to proceed would be issued. Following that notice to proceed, the selected contractor would have to mobilize and then begin construction."
During construction the architectural firm would be responsible for clarifying and answering any contractor questions, meetings,
approving pay requests and justifying changes, site inspections and final inspections.
Owens said another option that's "slightly faster" to get to construction is "design-development".
Owens explained, "It is my opinion that design-development may not be the best option for this project. The primary reason for this is that the Town will lose a lot
of the input in the process, lose the ability to competitively bid the project and may not get the exact final product that it desired."
Owens said the process to complete a pool is "a lot more complicated in the public sector given the above steps. It is also likely that the total cost to complete all of the above steps will likely be significantly higher than the $30,000 allotted by council to begin the process."
Owens said the first step to begin the process is for him to complete his review of the costs presented to the Council in September and then Council selects a competent firm to move forward. He explained, "Once I have received proposals to move forward with the process (November), the item will be brought back to the Council for further action."
The Council will consider the item at their October 9, meeting at 6:30PM at Town Hall.