Swimming pool committee sets direction
Feb. 12, 2013 — Don’t hold your breath waiting for a swimming pool in Susanville — but the process is moving forward.
Lassen County Administrative Officer Martin Nichols chaired the first meeting of the Lassen County Pool Steering Committee in the county’s administrative conference room Thursday, Feb. 7.
For about 90 minutes the major players — Lassen Community College, the Susanville School District, Lassen High School, Lassen County, the city of Susanville and the Susanville Indian Rancheria — and others interested in bringing a pool to town discussed the priorities of such a project. No definitive decisions were made, and Nichols said he plans to ask the Lassen County Board of Supervisors later this month to hire a consultant to advise the county on how to proceed.
The group discussed a variety of options and tried to reach a consensus on the minimum requirements of a pool. The committee reached agreement that the pool should be an indoor facility that can accommodate competitive swimming events.
Some argued the pool should include diving boards and be designed to accommodate the needs of those in physical therapy and seniors who use the pool for exercise. Parking and public use were also concerns.
But Nichols said right now the committee should decide the minimum requirements of the pool and other uses could possibly be considered as the project movs forward.
Nichols reminded the committee incorporating the priorities they select “all come down to money.”
The cost of building the pool could run as high as $4.5 million.
Jared Hancock, Susanville city administrator, told the committed it could cost as much as $200,000 per year to operate the pool once it’s built.
“The pool will never pay for itself,” Hancock said, referring to the operating costs.
Nichols agreed and said over the years the cost to operate and maintain the pool could easily be more than 10 or 20 times the cost of the facility itself.
Nichols said the county may seek voter approval for a fee or tax to pay the operating costs of the pool, and several committee members said the public has a distrust of government and a fear the money would wind up going into the general fund rather than toward the pool’s operating expenses.
Nichols said the possible ballot measure could be written to restrict the funds, but the committee seemed to favor a Joint Powers Agreement between a number of entities or the formation of a separate recreation district to run the pool.
As one might expect, no decision could be made on the site of the pool and the committee discussed the merits of possible sites — Lassen Community College, the old Roosevelt Pool site, the Deal and Davie property across from the high school, Credence High School, the city’s proposed Sierra Park and the Sierra Pacific Industries’ (SPI) old mill property next to Riverside Park.
Lassen College President Marlon Hall said the college was the best site because of parking, availability of geothermal resources and educational opportunities.
Lassen County Superintendent of Schools Rich DuVarney said the Deal and Davie property across the street from the high school would be ideal.
Hancock suggested the city might to able to open access to Memorial Park from Main Street. He also said the property owner is willing to sell and an appraisal has been made.
DuVarney said a pool at that site could be “a showcase for Main Street” and the pool wouldn’t be “a hidden gem” located at an out-of-the way site.
Tony Jonas, the former manager of Roosevelt Pool, said the committee should consider a four-acre parcel at the old Sierra Pacific Industries (SPI) mill near Riverside Park. He said he understood SPI was willing to donate the land for the project.
Nichols said he would schedule another meeting in the next month or two after the board of supervisors hires a consultant to help with the project.
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