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Back You are here: Home Opinion Opinion Section Letters to the Editor Why I Think the Pool Project Makes Sense

Why I Think the Pool Project Makes Sense

Dear Editor,
I have read some letters to the editor and spoken with residents that are against the swimming pool project and believe there is a lot of misinformation out there.  
The most recent letter indicated that an empty condo pool is indicative of the utilization that the community swimming pool would have.  If you have not grown up around aquatics or haven't had the pleasure of utilizing a fitness pool, I can understand how you might equate a neighborhood or condo association pool with this project.  
However, a true fitness pool like they have at the YWCA, YMCA, Wilmington Athletic Center, etc. is a whole different category.  Those pools are currently over-utilized and it is difficult to get into a fitness class, find lane time to swim laps, or get a space for your child to join a swim team or take lessons.  
Visit one of those pools any day or time of the week that they are open and you will find a lot of people competing for the same space.  Furthermore, most pools on the island can only be used during the Summer months - the proposed project offers a year-round facility.
I have had a chance to review the project documents on the town website and have attended a couple of the public workshops and here is my take on why this project makes sense (my own top 10 list):
1.  If the Town had to purchase land and then build the pool, there is no way the financials would work.  However, the Town is in the unique position of using (under-utilized) space that taxpayers already own.
2.  I have heard people indicate concern over the financial projections.  The proposal indicates that it would be financed by a Town bond, but that memberships and programming would cover most of the annual operating costs.  Even if you use the "worst case scenario" that the committee estimates of losing approximately $70,000 per year, it is a pretty low cost to taxpayers given the quality of life it offers.  To put it in perspective, it would cost a taxpayer with a $200K home about $8 per year (compared to the approximately $53 per year that the same taxpayer already pays to subsidize the overall parks and rec program).
3.  The proposed financing is for a term of 20 years.  After 20 years, users and programs will have payed off the bond and the Town will own the pool free and clear.
4.  Some have told me that they are worried that the timing isn't right because the Town has other infrastructure expenses including water and roads. This project should stand on it's own merit and is mutually exclusive of the utilities fund or capital improvement funds.  Roads and water quality will always be issues that will need to be budgeted responsibly.
5.  The "worst case scenario" that the committee calculated assumes only 350 memberships.  If we can get 1,300 members to join the Town's rec center and the YWCA has 1,400 members, it seems pretty reasonable that we can sell 350 memberships to the pool.
6.  The proposed rates are cheap!  Try and join any other nearby swimming facility and you will find out how attractive the rates are (trust me, the YWCA rates are 30% higher and the YMCA rates are 50% higher than those that are proposed).
7.  I have read that some people take issue with the surveys that have been conducted.  Regardless of which survey you do or don't believe, every one I have seen has had more people in favor of the pool than against the pool.  At the workshops I attended, more people in the room were in favor of the pool than against the pool.
8.  I read in a letter to the editor that Wilmington City Pools aren't available at convenient hours to taxpayers due to "operating costs."  The Wilmington City Pools are run strictly as a community service and do not offer the programming and services being proposed by this project.  The city pools charge $1 per day to use the pool and are only considered a "cost center" - budget dollars are not allocated to offer aerobics, fitness classes, etc.  They don't even charge the summer swim team to use the Legion Stadium pool.
9.  What other project can touch so many different demographics?  Old and young, fit and disabled, active and passive - there isn't a single demographic that is excluded by a project like this.  I am passionate that children living near the beach should have a safe and structured environment to learn to swim.  Additionally, this pool would be a gift to the seniors and everyone else in the community that needs a place to exercise and rehabilitate.
10.  In my opinion, the quality of life that this facility would offer far exceeds any of the negative aspects of the project.  We should rally together as a community to figure out how to make it happen.
 Thank you for your consideration,
Carol Flinn,
Carolina Beach, N.C.