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Carolina Beach Holds Aquatic Center Pool Workshops

The Town of Carolina Beach held 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.
As of January 10, they had received over 200 responses to the surveys.
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.
The two public workshops were held 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 was 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.    
Both workshops enjoyed healthy attendance. During the January 10, meeting at the Senior Center committee member Duke Hagestrom spoke to the public about the project and how they are progressing through research of financials, designs and surveying the public.
Several residents posed questions regarding attendance, ADA accessibility, how much it will cost for residents and tourists to use the facility and the affects of noise on the neighboring residential homes. Parking was also a concern.
 Hagestrom said of the 3,750 surveys mailed out in monthly utility bills last month, a couple of hundred had been returned. He said that number is expected to increase.
He said once all of the research and planning is complete, if the Council wishes to proceed it would take six to seven months to complete.
Councilman Steve Shuttleworth explained during the meeting the project would be reviewed by the Town's Planning and Zoning Commission to review items such as parking requirements before proceeding to Council for consideration.
Local resident Rick Knott commented after the meeting, "After listening to the presentation and discussion from the public, I changed my mind. I now favor proceeding to Design Development and looking at the numbers at that point to have a better idea of whether or not the pool can be self sustaining. And I hope it can. Kudos to Duke and the other committee members. They obviously have done their homework."
Debra LeCompte commented, "I can now say I am in favor but, only if the pool can be self sustaining" without costing taxpayer funds.
At the Council's January 8, meeting Hagestrom explained the committee is working on the design phase of the project and further researching the financial figures.
He said Lisle Architecture & Design has given an initial cost-estimate and, "I think when we first came to you it was between seven and eight hundred thousand dollars. The number we've been looking at more recently is probably closer to a million."
He said they are looking at the numbers closely and forecasting future increased cost such as labor.
He said, "We are looking for a solution that, between the access fees, the people paying for their memberships, the people paying to go to their zumba classes, their aerobics classes. Those are the people paying for
the facility, not a burden on our taxpayers. Where all of a sudden your tax bill went up because we built a Taj Mahal pool."
He said, "This is a community project. This isn't some people trying to slam it in. It's just a bunch of volunteers working together trying to get the community's input and working to make this happen."
Hagestrom said the next phase is "Design Development" beyond just renderings of the pool where, "We will actually understand what the pumps will look like, where do they sit in the building" and looking at civil engineering aspects.
Hagestrom asked the Council to consider adding members to their committee because of the level of work that is involved. Additional members could work on issues such as obtaining grant funding.
Mayor Bob Lewis said parking is vital to the project and questioned how it will be addressed with existing parking needs at Town Hall and the Recreation Center.
Hagestrom said the Town is exploring overflow parking at a neighboring church north of Town Hall to facilitate busier events such as swim meets.
The next presentation to the Council is anticipated in March.
The Island Gazette conducted a poll on our website at
The non-scientific poll running for three months posed the question: Do you think the Town of Carolina Beach should build a 25-yard, 8-lane swimming pool adjacent to the Recreation Center behind Town Hall?
222 voted "yes". 184 voted "no". 11 voted "no opinion".