By Tanner Hall
Jackson County voters can expect to see a bond referendum for an indoor pool on the ballot for November 2020.
Commissioners agreed during Tuesday’s work session results from their most recent survey indicated strong taxpayer support. The group is planning to move forward by hiring an architect to calculate cost estimates.
The assumed location is Cullowhee Recreation Center.
Michael Hopkins, assistant director of the Parks and Recreation Department, reviewed survey results with officials. From May 3 through June 14, the online poll generated 1,709 responses from a large variety of age ranges. Most participants said they were residents of Sylva and Cullowhee.
Nearly 1,600 people voted in favor of an indoor pool.
Sixty-eight percent of respondents said they would support a property tax increase to pay for one; about 90 percent said they would pay membership fees to support ongoing maintenance and operation costs.
County leaders in 2017 sought proposals from architectural firms for the planning and design of a 25-meter “indoor competition short course” and a “therapeutic pool facility” as add-ons to the Cullowhee Recreation Center.
A review committee, consisting of county Manager Don Adams, county Attorney Heather Baker and recreation staff members, recommended Charlotte-based company Clark Nexsen for the job.
Architects, according to the firm’s proposal, would deliver to commissioners an estimated budget, including maintenance and operating costs, along with studies about local demand for an indoor pool and preliminary options for an aquatics program.
The contract with Clark Nexsen would cost $37,900. Other items, such as marketing materials designed to educate voters about the issue, would bring the total price to about $58,000.
On Tuesday, Adams said the same Charlotte firm would be willing to honor its original proposal. Commissioners are expected to hold a formal vote at their next meeting, set for 3 p.m. Tuesday, July 16, at Jackson County Justice Center. The deadline to have everything in hand, in order to prepare a bond referendum for November’s election, is late May or early June, Adams said. The contract with Clark Nexsen is for five months.
Survey respondents requested several aquatic features be considered for the indoor pool, such as therapy and fitness areas, pool parties, a kids’ play area and swimming lanes.