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Carolina Beach Council To Hear Pool Project Update At April 9th Meeting

Rendering of a proposed 204,000 gallon, 25 yard, 8-lane, NCAA compliant swimming pool to be located adjacent to the Town's recreation center.

Managing Editor

CAROLINA BEACH - The Carolina Beach Community Pool Steering Committee will give a presentation to the Town Council at their upcoming April 9th, meeting on a proposal to build a swimming pool adjacent to the Town's Recreation Center behind Town Hall. The proposed facility would be built adjacent to the Carolina Beach Recreation center on land already owned by the Town of Carolina Beach.
Committee member Duke Hagestrom commented Tuesday April 2, "The design is consistent with the feedback we have received from the community to keep it simple but useful."
Highlights include a 204,000 gallon, 25 yard, 8-lane, NCAA compliant swimming pool complemented by a zero entry shallow end, ADA accessible ramp, and 9’ diving well.
The facility would be open in the Summer and covered by a “bubble” enclosure in the winter for year-round use.
Hagestrom explained that by leveraging a footprint already owned by the Town of Carolina Beach, the project can reduce the upfront implementation cost.
Access to the facility will be through the existing rec center entryway and a covered walkway that leads to the pool.  Leveraging the existing check-in desk would reduce the annual admin cost of running the facility.
Simple, but functional locker rooms and storage buildings have an open design, a separate admin counter that can be utilized for concessions, and based on community feedback, a family changing room.
Hagestrom explained, "We received overwhelming support at two public workshops and at various community group meetings. A swimming pool remains a high priority of the community according to the parks and rec master plan."
The committee sent out surveys in utility bills earlier this year and held community meetings including one at the Katie B. Hines Senior Center.
He explained, "The majority of the community has expressed interest in a swimming pool – 55% percent are in favor which is much larger than the typical 30% in most average communities according to the USA Swimming “Build a Pool” workshop.  A large number of those who said “No” had a caveat that they would be in support of the facility if it wouldn’t be a burden to tax payers.  Another group that said “No” indicated their displeasure with some of the Town’s infrastructure and water quality."
Hagestrom explained, " As highlighted in the Town’s Park and Rec Master Plan, the NRPA and NCDENR suggest a pool for every 20,000 residents.  There are over 70,000 residents between Pleasure Island and the closest YWCA pool."
Parking for the pool could be facilitated by expanding an existing parking area into a grass area bordering Seventh Street behind Town Hall.
Hagestrom said he's awaiting the final financial figures from the design firm, contractors and pool companies. He said it appears the best case scenario for the total project cost is around $895,000 but would likely be around $1 million.
He explained, "We are waiting on one more confirmation on the construction numbers, but every indication is that the price tag is most likely around $1M to build the facility" and, "Based on our calculations, the pool will most likely break even, but we are also considering a worst case scenario and a best case scenario that could cause a variance each year until the loan is payed off."
He said the plan is for the facility to generate revenues through user fees, activity fees and special event revenues in an effort to break even and cover that cost annually over a number of years including financing and operating costs. Also, the plan calculates long-term maintenance costs to avoid future surprise expenses such as replacing pumps and other equipment.
Hagestrom said forecasting revenues and expenses has been extremely conservative in comparison to the level of business seen at other facilities such as the YWCA in Wilmington. He said the goal is break even or generate revenues. He said the committee has recieved requests for activities such as swim lessons, water aerobics, swim teams, scuba diving training and Red Cross training. 
Hagestrom said there are other options to help fund the project including a Sponsored Brick Paver Program, naming rights could be sold to a business, pre-sold memberships, corporate sponsorships and they are exploring grant opportunities.
He explained the findings of the committee’s review of the feasibility of this project indicate a swimming pool design fitting the desires of the community can work on the proposed site and the cost of construction and ongoing operations can be supported by the mandate that this be a “user pay” facility.
Also, affordable and adequate access for members of the community can be balanced with programming to help offset expenses.
The Town Council meeting is scheduled for April 9th at 6:30PM. Prior to that at 5:45 Mayor Bob Lewis will deliver the first "State of the Town" public address.