Editorial: Council Asked To Revisit Community Pool Proposal

By / Editorials / Wednesday, 12 October 2016 04:00

Managing Editor

The Carolina Beach Town Council heard a request at their October 11th, meeting to consider reinstating the Pool Committee to revisit a previous 2013 proposal to build an aquatics center adjacent to Town Hall. (See report on page 1-A of this week's edition.)
In October of last year during the municipal election season, the Island Gazette posed a question to candidates running for Mayor and Council seats.
That question was, "Do you support the Town building a community pool or aquatics center?"
Mayor Dan Wilcox responded, "My position on the new pool has been consistent since it was first brought to our residents’’ attention in 2011. While I like the idea of a community pool that our many families and their children could use, I do not support the current plan or design of the pool facility. In fact, I specifically requested that the pool Committee come back to council with a revised funding plan and design that addressed many of the concerns that were, and still are being discussed among our residents. At the proper time, in the proper location, with budget allowing, I could support a true community pool, for our residents. A pool that has BBQ areas, slides, seating and other aspects for our residents to enjoy. But I do not support a $1.6 mil aquatic center that our tax payers would be on the hook for, and at the same time, have limited use of."
Councilman Steve Shuttleworth responded, "This issue seems to be the third rail of Carolina Beach politics. A community pool has been in the Town Parks and Recreation master plan for nearly 10 years. I support a pool. I believe first, we need to make sure we have a sound budget, adequate reserves, police and fire protection, water, sewer, stormwater and road maintenance addressed. I supported the last proposal because we had specific plans and costs. Presuming a new plan would meet community needs and remain financially feasible I would support it."
Councilman Tom Bridges responded, "I was very involved in the pool issue when I was appointed to the council in 2013. I served as one of the liaisons to the pool committee and attended their weekly meetings. I never got the chance to vote for the pool during my tenure but did vote to approve monies for the planning stages. If elected, I would strongly consider a pool on the site where the public library is vacating. I like the idea of pairing the pool with the senior center. I also believe that the type of pool planned by the committee makes more sense than a smaller community pool suggested by others. However, I would vote for the pool only if I am convinced that we can build it without raising taxes and taking away from our much needed water and sewer projects."
In April of 2014, the Council voted not to proceed with the proposal.
During the Council's meeting that month while discussing the proposal, Council member Leann Pierce explained, "I love the idea of a pool. I would like to see it. There are two things that are first and foremost on my mind, well three. One is, a couple of people said maybe we could use a less expensive pool. Those are all things we can look at. I think the numbers are pretty good. But my biggest concern is two things, last Council meeting we had a very emotional plea from residents about the waste transfer station being in their backyards. I have a problem with that. My next question is, where are we going to park the 30 vehicles in the parking lots if we build a pool. We don't have an operations yard. We are paying $3,500 a month to rent at the Food Lion shopping center which could go away at any time. We have to, I think, secure an operations yard."
The Town subsequently built an Operations Center on land adjacent to the Town's Recreation Center for their public works department.
During that same meeting Councilman Gary Doetsch thanked the Pool Committee for their work and said, "However, I'm one of those people that think it's going to have to take a back seat for now. At this time I would like to make a motion that we shelve this item until we have a street-paving plan in our capital improvement plan. We certainly have funds for beach renourishment that are guaranteed. Just too many issues right now that I think are going to cost the Town of Carolina Beach to move ahead with this project."
During Tuesday night's meeting the Council seemed open to the idea of revisiting the proposal following the request of three citizens who feel the idea of a community pool is something the citizens desire based on a recent parks and recreation master plan survey.
The Council should give the idea serious consideration and promote constructive discussion towards a final decision that fiscally responsible and meets the needs of citizens.


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