BANDON — In an effort to gauge public opinion on whether the proposed Bandon Aquatic Center should be located in City Park, the City of Bandon is taking a non-binding, advisory survey. The survey will be inserted in the March billing of all Bandon utility customers and the City is asking people to return the surveys with their opinion checked in the appropriate box.
The question on the survey will be: "Is the Bandon City Park a good location for a privately owned aquatic center, open to the public for a fee?"
Last year, the Bandon Swimming Pool Corporation received notice of an anonymous bequest of $2.5 million for the pool. However, the benefactor has stated in order to receive the funds, the pool must be located within Bandon City Park.
Following the announcement of the bequest, the Pool Corporation made a presentation to the City Council and the council then directed the Parks and Recreation Commission to examine potential locations within the park and make a recommendation to the council. City staff prepared background information on potential locations within the park and made recommendations based on limitations of infrastructure.
The commission identified three suitable sites, with the preferred location east of the library parking lot. That site would group the pool with the larger structures in the park, including the Library, Sprague Theater and Community Center.
The aquatic center would be constructed and operated by the Bandon Aquatic Center Board, a private nonprofit, 501(c)(3) corporation. The proposed building is 12,000 square feet and the complex would take up approximately 1 acre of City Park land, depending on whether parking would have to be added or if the complex could utilize existing parking.
The Pool Corporation already owns 10 acres adjacent to City Park but has stated that it is cost-prohibitive at this time to build at that site, which lacks basic infrastructure.
In November's mid-term election, Bandon voters passed Measure 6-172 by a margin of 60 percent, which stipulates that voter approval will be required for any expenditure of public funds for the operation and maintenance of a public or private swimming pool in Bandon city limits.
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City Manager Robert Mawson has said at meetings that the pool and its future location are still hypothetical and that no decision has been made by the council.
"The discussion has been and still is in the concept phase, and no project plans have been submitted proposing a specific location," Mawson said.
At the February council meeting, Mawson was instructed by the council to take the survey.
"This is not a political ballot," Mawson said. "We're trying to make it a simple question. The council wanted a non-binding survey to just get a feel for how people feel about having the pool in City Park and whether it's an appropriate plan for a nonprofit agency."
"The council did ask the Parks and Recreation Commission to study the possibility and determine where an aquatic center might be sited within the park, which they did," Mawson added. "This determination was made with the understanding that the possibility was still under discussion and no decision has been made by the council to allow an aquatic center to be built in the park."
It is hoped the survey will allow the community to let the council know how it feels about allowing a private, nonprofit group to build a swimming pool in City Park.
Mawson is asking that no more than two votes be cast per household on the same colored paper that the newsletter is on, and that they be returned to City Hall by 5 p.m. Friday, March 22.
"I think it will set some direction for them," Mawson said.