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Back You are here: Home News Local and State News Local Carolina Beach Community Pool Workshop Draws Criticism Over Survey Results

Carolina Beach Community Pool Workshop Draws Criticism Over Survey Results

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.

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

CAROLINA BEACH - The Carolina Beach Community Pool Steering Committee held a workshop at the Katie B. Hines Senior Center Cape Fear Blvd September 13th, to get input from the public regarding a proposed Aquatics Center.
The meeting resulted in a healthy dose of input from the public both in favor and opposition to the proposal.
In April the Carolina Beach Community Pool Steering Committee gave a presentation to the Town Council on a proposal to build a swimming pool adjacent to the Town's Recreation Center behind Town Hall on land already owned by the Town. The Council approved the next step in the process to complete the final construction drawings and obtain all final bids and structure a loan and terms with the Local Government Commission.
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. 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. It would also include locker rooms, storage building with an open design, separate admin counter that can be utilized for concessions, and a family changing room.
The facility would be funded by revenues from annual passes and other activities such as swim competitions and exercise classes.
A survey was sent out in water bills earlier this year asking residents if they were in favor of a community swimming pool but did not contain other information about the proposed project such as size, location, fees or project cost.
The results list 516 in favor, 416 opposed and 21 undecided.
Paul Feldman, owner of a home in the Olde Mariner's Village neighborhood adjacent to the Town's Recreation Center and the proposed location for the pool spoke during the Friday meeting in opposition to the proposal.
Feldman questioned the financial figures which claim the pool will be supported by user fees and revenues from other events such as swim meets and various educational and exercise classes.
He questioned why no one from the Town had contacted him or the neighborhood Homeowners Association.
Feldman questioned the survey itself saying, "Your poll... this slanted poll. The one thing you've done that you don't realize is you've disenfranchised probably a thousand homeowners if not more."
Feldman said when he lived in a condo years ago on the Island, there were 18 owners. The HOA received the water bill, not the owners. He said if the survey was sent out in water bills, then many of the people owning and living in condos likely did not get a survey.
He said driving along Lake Park Blvd from one end of Town to the other, "There are probably 1,000 condos that qualify that they were never contacted."
He said they deserved to be able to participate in the poll because they may end
up paying for the project if the user fees do not make it self-sufficient.
He said many people on the Island have pools including neighborhoods and clubs over the bridge.
In a letter to the Island Gazette in May of this year from the Pool Committee, they explained, "Some have questioned the accuracy of our water bill survey that resulted in 55% being in favor and 45% against the pool. We used the formula for a statistically accurate sample size and determined that we have enough survey responses for an accurate sampling size to feel confident in our 55/45 result. We would also like to point out that according to USS Swimming, most communities only have a favorable rating of 30% - we beat the industry average by 25%. Statistically speaking, the majority of the community is in favor or the pool."
At the meeting, committee member Duke Hagestrom said they have had input from owners living in Feldman's neighborhood that support the project. He encouraged everyone to review the financial figures which are available online at www.carolinabeach.org He said the pool has been part of the Town's Master Plan for years.
Hagestrom said, "We have very few mechanisms to try and get to the community and get feedback, the water bill was one of such mechanisms. Our thought was, and obviously we were incorrect, but that if there was a homeowners association, somebody who is in charge of a condo community... if they are only getting one water bill, our understanding was that it would be incumbent on the management company to say hey, we got some information from your Town and they would share that. We didn't realize that that wouldn't be shared with the rest of the homeowners."
Surveys were also sent home with children at Carolina Beach Elementary School.
Councilman Steve Shuttleworth said it was his suggestion to use the water bills for surveys and it was one of several methods to get input.
He said over 4,000 were sent out and typically a one percent return is great but they got a 25% return.
Residents at the meeting voiced support for the pool citing activities desired by many people such as exercise and learning water safety.
One resident said a way to get more input would be to solicit voters at the polls with a survey. 
Cost of construction is approximately $900,000 to $1.5 million dollars. Estimated cost for operations annually is $289,000 to $314,000. Income from fees is estimated from $232,000 to $366,000.
To learn more visit the Recreation Department page online at www.carolinabeach.org