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Back You are here: Home Opinion Opinion Section Editorials Editorial: Future Of Community Pool Project

Editorial: Future Of Community Pool Project

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

The Carolina Beach Town Council approved additional funding for the design of a proposed community pool during their November 12, meeting. In April of this year 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 at the
April meeting 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 Council previously approved approximately $50,000 and then recently another $12,000 to finalize the design and solicit bids from contractors in the near future.
Earlier this year cost of construction was estimated to range from approximately $900,000 to $1.15 million. Cost of operations was estimated to range from $289,000 to $314,000 per year. Income estimated to range from $232,000 to $366,000 per year.
The Rec Center currently has over 1,500 members and revenue projections were based on checking with other pools in the area and using conservative estimates of between 30 and 50% of the revenue they can achieve.
The issue of a building the project became a topic during the recent election for Mayor and two Council seats.
Dan Wilcox won his bid for the Mayor's seat. Gary Doetsch and Leann Pierce won election to council.
That change in leadership could have a measureable affect on the future of the project.
During the election season I posed the following question to all candidates: What is your position on the proposal to build an 8-lane community swimming pool and Aquatics Center adjacent to Town Hall to be funded by user fees?
Dan Wilcox responded, "I’m in favor of a community pool, just not this design or at this time. My suggestion would be to keep the pool committee intact and ask them to look at alternate designs while we explore Parks & Recreation grant opportunities again. If we find an appropriate design and suitable funding sources that will cover any potential shortfalls and liability to our property owners, I feel the community could reach consensus on this issues."
Gary Doetsch responded, "At this time I am not in favor of the project. Too many issues have not been addressed and I do not feel that adequate information has been supplied to citizens so accurate support can be determined. Having a community pool is something that was suggested when I was on Town Council 1997-2005 but the concept has changed. As long as it was on the Parks and Recreation Committee’s list of future projects
I would continue to
view this as a possibility as long as it was a Community Pool affordable to all residents both from membership and cost of operation to citizens."
Leann Pierce responded, "I would like to see a safe place for our children to learn to swim and families to spend quality time. With that said, I have to look at it through the eyes of a businessperson and a taxpayer. I would have to be convinced that we as a community can afford this project and the citizens are in favor of it. I am not in favor of creating a tax burden on our citizens.  I would like to see alternative funding with grants, private enterprise, or county participation."
A survey was sent out in utility bills. Pool Committee member Duke Hagestrom said, "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."