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Editorial: Hold Public Hearings On Community Pool

Managing Editor

A Carolina Beach municipal swimming pool seems like a pretty non-controversial issue. Then why not hold a public hearing? Notify the public for several weeks, hold a meeting and get some input from the community on how they feel about an 8-lane 25-yard pool located adjacent to the Town's Recreation Center that can be used year-round with a dome on top. Inform the public of the proposal, all of the financial projections, the design and location. Proposed fees, intended uses, etc. Then sit back and listen to the public. Seems easy enough.
Lately I've had conversations with Councilman Steve Shuttleworth who feels the Parks and Recreation Committee has their marching orders based on public input they received in 2007-2008 when a Parks Master Plan was adopted. The public has already spoken. It's been talked about for 14 years. It's a positive project. My question continues to be, why not hold a public hearing? Especially if you're sure everyone supports it.
Earlier this month the item was placed on the Town Council's agenda as, "Discussion and Presentation Regarding the Opportunity to Construct a Carolina Beach Aquatics Center."
In the agenda packet released the Tuesday before the meeting it stated the presentation wasn't completed at that time and, "Will be provided to you at your meeting."
That indicated to the public there would be a "Presentation" on the "Opportunity" to construct an "Aquatics Center". Not where. Not how much. No details. You'll find out at the meeting. Certainly not that Council would vote to move forward, establish a committee and allocate $30,000 for site planning.
The community may very well support such a project. It sounds outstanding.
But this has nothing to do with the project; it's about providing the opportunity for the public to offer their input. Educate them, solicit their ideas and listen to the input. Then make a decision.
Several Council members have told me they have yet to hear negative input from the public about a plan to spend around $737,500 on the project forecasted to be paid for by user fees. I've heard a few negative comments, but generally that comes from people who aren't familiar with the project.
If there's overwhelming public support, a public hearing should be a breeze.
Whether or not everyone agrees with Council is another matter. But Council should certainly hear those opinions.