APRC approves $2.6 million bond plan for new pool
The Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission Monday approved a funding plan for a $2.6 million revenue bond and the general site plan for the replacement of the Daniel Meyer Pool.
Parks Director Michael Black recommended that APRC consider bumping up the bond to $2.85 million to cover improvement of the city’s tennis courts and construction of pickleball courts, which are scheduled to begin in 2020.
The commission approved the $2.6 bond and directed staff to schedule a special meeting to discuss the second option in more detail before Ashland City Council’s Tuesday, Nov. 19, meeting. The special meeting date is yet to be announced.
“By bulking this together we’re not just talking about a pool, we’re talking about improvements on all different parts of the community,” Black said.
City council must issue the bond for the pool because it will be funded through the city’s food and beverage tax.
Black said the food and beverage tax revenue is estimated at $750,000 to $800,000 a year.
The estimate for the bond would be $290,000 to $300,000 per year starting in 2021 and end in 2030.
“So if we were to spend $300,000 of money that we have already been collecting each year through the food and beverage tax, then we get a pool, but if we spent an extra $25,000, then we get tennis courts resurfaced and pickleball courts, for 10 years?” APRC commissioner Julian Bell asked.
Black confirmed that was an accurate summary.
In the current budget, Black said, the pool cost is $190,000 a year and it brings in $99,000 in revenue, which leaves a budget cost of $91,000.
The new pool budget is estimated at $253,000 a year and would still cost $91,000 after revenue and the food and beverage tax is applied.
Members of the now disbanded pool ad hoc committee blew noisemakers and shouted with victory after nearly a decade of trying to get the commission to prioritize the replacement of the pool.
The ad hoc committee recommended that the pool be expanded to 25 by 27.3 yards (25 meters), which will increase the size of the pool enough to include eight lanes (the current pool has six). It will also add a therapy pool.
“With the loss of some other pools, it hasn’t been able to function to meet the needs of the community,” Black said.
Black said the pool area will meet ADA standards, and said a priority is to make sure the pool meets the needs of everyone in the community. Local architect Jac Nickels has helped with the preliminary design.
The pool would remain in the same location. To fit the larger size, some of the parking area would be reduced.
Ashland High School swim coach Todd Lantry urged the commission to approve the bond. He said he gets to determine where people can park during swim meets and already has a plan to utilize the high school and middle school parking lots, adding that the times of swim meets are off hours for the schools, so their parking lots are empty.
He noted that the only pool in Ashland gets a lot of use by several different community groups, and a larger pool would allow for simultaneous uses.
“Imagine that babies are doing swim lessons with their parents in the alcove while bigger kids are getting swim lessons in the shallow end, while lap swimming could be going on in the deep end and just think about all those different age groups swimming at the same time,” Lantry said.
He said he believes that it’s in the spirit of the Meyer family to proceed with the project and allow multiple uses and multigenerational activities at the same time.
“Ashland, from kids all the way to older adults, should get that opportunity to learn how to swim,” Lantry said. “There are older adults who don’t know how to swim and could benefit from adult swim lessons. Unfortunately, too many kids don’t learn how to swim, and they become adults who don’t know how to swim.”
Black said the expansion of the pool would not impact the senior center, and staff are considering building a sidewalk to run behind the senior center because that path is often used to access the back door of the senior center anyway.
There’s room for lawn space around the deck of the pool, and the bleachers would be moved to a different side of the pool to allow for more lawn space considering that parents often like to lounge in the grass area as their children play, Black said.
A path leading directly from the senior center to the pool was also suggested to encourage more senior activities at the pool.
“As we go through the process working with the designer, we’ll work out all of those important details,” Black said.
The pool is used by several school districts in the region. It was built in 1986.
“It probably won’t last another year,” Black said.
Contact Tidings reporter Caitlin Fowlkes at email@example.com or 541-776-4496. Follow her on Twitter @cfowlkes6.