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The Daily Tar Heel

Pool Requests Extend Beyond Town Budget

Residents voiced their desire for a community pool at Monday's public forum, but an architect hired by the town said a facility that meets their requests could cost more than $8 million, which is $6 million over budget.

Town leaders responded by agreeing to solicit financial support from other local governments.

At the forum, residents made pleas for the specific form that the Homestead Park Aquatic/Community Center would take.

The two most popular requests were for the creation of either an indoor heated therapeutic pool or a 50-meter lap pool.

Those requesting a lap pool were accompanied by a petition that the Town Council had misplaced since October 2000. The petition contained 469 signatures in favor of a lap pool.

Rich Miller, swimming coach at East Chapel Hill High School, spoke of the overcrowded pools in which his students train. "In each lane it is common, not rare, to find 10 or more swimmers," Miller said.

But a warm-water therapeutic pool appeals to other residents for various reasons. One of the only available facilities is the warm-water pool at Duke University. But it is open only to the patients receiving therapy.

Poonam Pande's son, of 303 Perry Creek Drive, has cerebral palsy and utilizes this pool.

"(The lack of a public heated pool) has not only excluded my son from his friends and family, but his siblings," Pande said.

Thomas Young, of 111 Silo Drive, used an aide to vocalize his thoughts because he is wheelchair bound and unable to directly address the council.

"I think Chapel Hill needs some place for people who have pain like me," Young said.

But the council is now looking for alternative funding sources to build a pool that satisfies at least one group.

"Obviously to build a pool that meets even a substantial part of the needs (of the community), we need significantly more money," Mayor Rosemary Waldorf said.

The Town Council responded to its fiscal problem by passing a motion to ask for assistance from the Carrboro Board of Aldermen, the Orange County Board of Commissioners and the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Board of Education.

The motion states that those groups will receive a videotaped copy of the meeting, the minutes and a summary of residents' concerns so they might better understand the challenges the council faces.

Town Council members also discussed their financial concern about maintenance and staffing costs.

"I think that this points to our need to have a collaborative effort between Carrboro and Orange County, not just for what we build but how we maintain it," said Town Council member Kevin Foy.

In the interim, Town Council member Flicka Bateman said she would like to investigate cooperation from the University as a means to alleviate overcrowding in local lap pools.

"UNC has two 50-meter pools," Bateman said, adding that she thought it would "not be too much to ask."

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