S.P. Floats Concept of Shared Pool
Commentary on this story on Tuesday's Headlines Podcast .
The council asked Town Manager Reagan Parsons during a work session last week to compose a letter and include a copy of a consultants' task force report and recommendations to the town to build an estimated $1.8 million pool facility.
According to surveys done by the consultants, a majority of Southern Pines residents want a new, larger swimming and aquatic recreation facility at a more accessible location within walking distance of the neighborhood where the existing pool is located in West Southern Pines.
"The current Southern Pines tax rate won't support a $2 million facility, and the cost of operating one can't be funded out of current revenues," Parsons said.
The town owns a more visible, suitable site at Morganton Road and Henley Street across from the town soccer and baseball field complex.
Parsons said the existing swimming pool would be kept open during the summer until some other option is decided upon.
At the urging of Councilman Chris Smithson, Mayor Frank Quis agreed to contact nearby municipalities, including Pinehurst, Aberdeen and Carthage, and the county commissioners, requesting they consider sharing in the cost of building a regional aquatic facility at the Southern Pines site.
Southern Pines currently is the only municipality with a taxpayer-supported public swimming pool. The pool park is in a remote area of West Southern Pines, used primarily by residents of that neighborhood.
At the very least, Smithson said, the county should be asked to help build a regional facility.
"All of the towns' residents pay county taxes, but the county recreation department (that the town taxpayers support in high proportion), provides no recreation services to the town," Smithson said.
Parsons said the time may not be right for a joint project such as this one, since a few informal feelers had gone out from the town recreation director to his counterparts in Pinehurst and Aberdeen. He said there was some encouragement from Aberdeen, but none from Pinehurst. Both towns are engaged in their own recreation projects.
Smithson said a regional pool could be "viable." He added, "there is a market for it."
About 53 percent of 400 randomly selected residents said they would prefer the town swimming pool be in a more visible location.
The present 40-plus-year-old swimming pool is small, outdated and has deteriorated infrastructure. The town had to spend $50,000 last summer to upgrade the pool to meet health codes for public swimming. The town had to replace the pump and filtering system.
The existing pool park has some playground equipment and playing fields on Henley Street. It is called the "Clay Hole" by many residents
The proposed site at Morganton and Henley is more visible and is within walking distance of the existing Pool Park neighborhood, consultants said.
The least costly option, of about $250,000, would be to upgrade the existing pool, without adding new water recreation features.
The town could afford to handle the less ambitious option, Smithson said. He added that he felt "nervous" about the town taking on the more expensive solution that the task force and a majority of residents favored. However, the majority of those surveyed also didn't want to raise taxes or pay more than $5 admission fee to build and operate the desired new facility.
Current usage of the existing pool is up. It had been declining in the years before the town made the repairs last summer. Residents said that before the town replaced the pump and filtering system, the water was discolored and looked dirty.
Recreation Supervisor Sue Gillis reported that the summer camp brings about 60 children at a time to the pool several mornings a week.
Since the start of the swimming season on Memorial Day, over the summer a smalll drop in general usage has occurred, she added, but that's normal toward the end of the summer.
Sara Lindau can be reached at 693-2473 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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