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Magistrates to consider swimming pool study

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Conway proposes building facility on pulling track location in park

By Ben Carlson

The long-debated and often rejected notion of building a public swimming facility in Anderson County might be realized after all.
The Anderson County Fiscal Court will consider spending $15,000 for a firm to conduct what amounts to a feasibility study for a swimming facility in the county park when it meets at 9 a.m. May 7.
The possible study was the topic Monday of a county parks and recreation committee meeting, held at County-Judge-Executive John Wayne Conway’s office.
Conway and magistrates David Montgomery and Forest Dale Stevens met with representatives of Brandstetter Carroll Inc., who offered to perform a study that will help the fiscal court determine a variety of factors before committing to spend what is expected to be millions on a swimming pool which would likely take the place of the pulling track in the park.
“You could build a pool and lose your shirt,” cautioned the company’s vice president, Michael E. Carroll. “What we’d like to find out is what the community wants and needs. If you give people a better product they’ll spend more money there. That’s the bottom line.”
Carroll said the study would include a wide range of issues, including the county’s demographics, income projections and the costs associated with operating the facility.
“You need that information before you can build a pool,” he said. “Part of our job is to reign you in.”
Conway, who campaigned on building a swimming pool, said he has a figure in mind on what the county can spend on a facility.
“We don’t want to incur debt the taxpayers will see no end to,” he said, adding that he isn’t in favor of raising taxes to pay debt on a pool or cover annual operating expenses.
The study, if approved, would take about two months to complete, Carroll said, adding that a swimming facility could be operation by 2014.
He said the fiscal court will be presented with a variety of options, including one he showed during Monday’s meeting that mirrored the facility already in place in Mercer County.
Possibilities include a pool that could be used for swim meets, along with a smaller attached pool for younger children.
Conway said he also wants to include a splash park, and would like to have a therapy pool, too.
“I know magistrates Stevens and Montgomery want to move forward with this,” Conway said, “but I have to do what the fiscal court tells me to do. If they say no, we won’t do it, but I will present it.”
Having a swimming facility in Lawrenceburg has been a decade-long debate following the closure of a public pool in the Legion park.
Numerous fundraisers have been held since that time, and a pool committee several years ago received grant funds to move the project forward.
It never happened, though, despite significant groundwork, including land studies in the county park to find a suitable location.
Conway declined to say just how much tax money he’d be willing to commit to a swimming facility, but emphasized that he wants it to at least pay for itself based on user fees, concessions and party reservations.
He said the manager of the pool at Anderson-Dean Park in Harrodsburg said that pool showed a net profit last year, but doesn’t have to service any debt.