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Back You are here: Home News Local and State News Local Carolina Beach Mails Out Aquatic Center Pool Survey; Public Meetings Set For Jan. 9th and 10th

Carolina Beach Mails Out Aquatic Center Pool Survey; Public Meetings Set For Jan. 9th and 10th

The Town of Carolina Beach will hold two community workshops on January 9th and 10th to take input on a proposed community pool to be located adjacent to the Town's Recreation Center behind Town Hall.

Managing Editor

CAROLINA BEACH - The Town of Carolina Beach recently mailed out surveys to residents in their monthly utility bills posing questions about a community pool and their swimming activities.
The survey is designed to solicit feedback for a proposed Aquatic Center community pool to be located adjacent to the Town's Recreation Center behind Town Hall on N. Lake Park Blvd.
Two public workshops will be held later this month to take input from citizens. The first on Wednesday January 9th, at 7:00pm at the Town's Recreation Center at 1121 N. Lake Park Blvd behind Town Hall. The second will be held Thursday January 10th at 12:30pm at the Katie B. Hines Senior Center on Cape Fear Blvd.
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.
The Council approved creating an ad-hoc steering committee to help manage the process to create a request for proposals for an Indoor/Outdoor Aquatic Center.  
In September Councilman Bob Lewis commented that, "A community pool has been on the Park and Recreation Master Plan for some 14-15 years but with high interest rates and no grant monies available it never materialized into a real plan until now. In developing the plan this same group of residents researched the investment and the annual maintenance to run a community pool and when a business plan demonstrated the facility could break even if it was designed as a full Aquatics Center the plan took shape.  An Aquatic Center can provide a facility and services for a wide range of uses than just a place for our families to swim."
Lewis explained, "Our residents can benefit from a year-round swimming facility while fees for other uses can offset the cost to build and operate the facility. Those fee based uses include: Swimming Lessons for all ages, Swim Team Practices, Swim Meets, Scuba Diving Training and Testing, Rehabilitation Programs etc.   Currently as designed the proposed Aquatic Center design would have an 8 lane lap pool, a deep dive area and a zero entry access to the pool.  Zero entry access means no steps or ladders for entry or exit."
He explained, "Some have questioned why council would vote to move forward with such a project now.  My thinking on the subject is that it provides our town with a unique resident focused asset which will provide significant value to residents of all ages with little or no investment from taxpayer dollars.  First, many of our local families and their children have limited places to go for swimming lessons.  Second our senior community has been asking the town to build a community pool to serve their needs for years."
Lewis explained, "Numerous residents and families have voiced a strong interest in an indoor facility for the winter time for water exercise and enjoyment.  Fourth, there are not many facilities available to serve our residents with the exception of the YWCA in Wilmington. Why Now? The real numbers associated with the expenses versus income is what make this facility a reality.  The town currently owns land that the center can be built on so we would not take any parcel of property off the tax base.  The building can be financed at the lowest interest rates ever available making it an affordable project with little downside risk.  An Aquatic Center can actually be a revenue supported venture as many across the North Carolina are showing net revenue gains after expenses."
He explained, "The demographics of families and individuals to support such a facility are here based on the proposed business plan.  There is also some additional county parks bond money available and Council is submitting a request for this money for the Aquatic Center, which could lower the potential building investment which would lower the annual costs even more. Since last Tuesdays council meeting I have heard a very strong voice of support from the residents of all ages in favor of building an Aquatic Center for the community, but I will admit I have heard a few people against it."
Lewis said, "Those who have spoken to me questioning the investment are not against building an Aquatic Center; they are more focused on other infrastructure needs of the town.  Some have asked why we would not use the money to invest in improving our water system. The water system is governed and funded as a separate Utility and as such no general fund monies or tourism fund monies support it.  We do have a reserve fund for Utilities part of which is set aside to fund capital improvements and we are working on a comprehensive plan to improve the quality and performance of our aging water infrastructure as we speak."
He explained, "Others have said we have the Atlantic Ocean all along our town for swimming why do we need a pool.   I agree, but for a youngster to learn how to swim they typically need to learn at an early age in a pool, for seniors to enjoy the water especially for exercise most prefer a pool and for those who have a physical handicap the ocean and beach presents some challenges to providing a safe environment to use the water."
Lewis said, "Another thing I heard was why not use the money to repave our roads.  The business plan developed for the Aquatic Center projects money generated by fees
covering the cost of the annual note and the cost of operation and maintenance.   So little or no real tax dollars will be used for the project.  This cannot be said for road paving.  As we all know a road has a life span and it requires maintenance and that cost is never recouped by generating any revenue so it becomes a direct expense against our budget or general fund reserves and your taxes.  In the past the town has been fortunate enough to get some help from the State
to fund some of our road paving projects but that has changed with the economic issues affecting our state budget.  Today, Carolina Beach has to fund 100% of repaving of our roads."
He explained, "Currently the Aquatic Center proposal is to provide an annual family pool pass in the neighborhood of $75 to $100 which I think would be a great value to all our residents.  With a little help from community volunteers,
some good project planning and some motivation this project can move forward quickly and by next summer could be a reality."
Lewis was recently appointed Mayor to fill the vacant seat left by Ray Rothrock who resigned in November.
Councilman Steve Shuttleworth is a strong proponent of the proposal and commented earlier this year on the topic of an 8-lane 25 yard community pool that, "Rest assured, if the Town cannot afford a swimming pool  I have no interest in ramming the project through."
He said it's an amenity the community has indicated a desire for in the Town's Parks Master Plan for many years.
The survey mailed out in utility bills this month poses general questions regarding swimming and a community pool including a comments section and envelope for return mail.
They can also be dropped off at Town Hall. 1121, North Lake Park Blvd.

Click here to visit the Carolina Beach Community Swimming Pool on Face Book.