Superintendent Donnie Johnson facilitated the discussion and charged the community with two different options in obtaining the necessary $500,000 through grants and fundraisers to completely restructure the pool. One option in the project would be to go ahead and file for leftover trust fund grants in June. The county could wait until February 2010 to apply for the next round of grants.
County commissioners and school board members originally planned to file for a one-to-one Parks and Recreation Trust Fund matching grant to cover half of the total expenditures. The other half would be raised through matching funds which would be split three ways between the school board, county commissioners, and a separate community fund raising entity. Essentially, each group would be responsible in providing $83,000 in matching funds.
Although the February deadline for applying for PARTF grants has passed, Johnson stated that the county could still file for leftover funds in June if the matching funds could be provided. If the June deadline did not provide an adequate time frame to raise funds or if the funds were not available, the county and school board could wait till February 2010 to apply for yet another round of PARTF grants. Johnson also said that the community as a whole could look into other possible grants if PART funds could not be obtained.
Johnson urged community members to take the lead in helping to raise the necessary funds to cover the matching funds so that a community mainstay could become once again operational.
“The challenge to this community is to raise $83,000 between now and June 1 or by February 2010,” Johnson said. “The pool means a lot to not only to the community in the northwest area but also to the entire county.”
ACMS Principal Bobby Ashley reinforced Johnson’s statements by informing community members that of the $8,500 already pledged by concerned citizens, the majority of those donors came from outside the Warrensville and Lansing area. This means that the county as a whole has expressed an interest in saving the pool, Ashley explained.
Ashley went on to explain how the county could be hindered by the prolonged loss of a community swimming pool, stating that the pool is used extensively in the summer for swimming classes, 4-H activities, and church group functions. Ashley also stated that church youth groups have also expressed an interest in raising funds to help save the pool.
Although the pool is an indoor facility, it is primarily used during mild weather months and is not used in the winter due to the absence of insulation. Johnson did not rule out the possibility that the pool could become properly insulated in the future but reminded the forum that the focus of the project for now should remain on attempting to simply reopen the pool. Johnson also answered questions concerning the circumstances as to why the pool was deemed outdated. According to Johnson, a leak in the pool, undetermined in location, was present and that much of the pool’s infrastructure was out of compliance. Additionally, the entire structure would also have to become handicapped accessible before reopening. Johnson also explained that the pool had simply outlived its use and that a lack of maintenance was not the reason behind the pool shutting down.
After informing the community of where the pool restoration effort stands, the discussion was turned over to Rachel Shepherd and concerned individuals interested in restoring the 33-year-old swimming pool. Shepherd is a member of the committee that wishes to save the swimming pool.
Through a brainstorming session and an exchanging of ideas, potential fundraising projects were brought to light. A possible golf tournament, raffles, and church dinners were just a few of the ideas exchanged by outspoken citizens. Johnson recommended that whatever funds that are raised in the project should be setup in a designated checking account.
It was also recommended that a commemorative plaque with a list of all those who gave donations could be installed once the project is completed. One of the more emphasized points that was raised in the meeting was the need to keep the community informed of the ongoing project through various forms of media.
As the forum dispersed, contact information was gathered by Shepherd so the formation of fundraisers could begin to take shape. A future fundraising meeting or community forum has yet to be determined.