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Dry Swimming Pool Leaves Recreational Opportunities Limited for Local Youth in Manchester-Clay County

CCN STAFF REPORT

Manchester, KY (June 7, 2016) - Summer is coming soon and the Manchester Recreation Center's swimming pool is closed, still. With the seasons passing one at a time, with students, locals, and visitors looking for recreational activities it is a missed opportunity once again for the City of Manchester to fail to refurbish the local swimming pool.

For a number of years now, concerned citizens have worked diligently to increase opportunities for local youth and guests to Clay County to have more diverse recreational and family oriented activities be made available in the community such as the new Clay County Fair, the various local festivals themed around the seasons of the year, the initiatives of the "Stay In Clay" group to upgrade walking and parks areas to enable more outdoor recreations, numerous 5K events, kayaking on the creeks and tributaries to the North Fork of the Kentucky River, adventure sports such as hiking and equestrian trails, the growing and eventful Salt Works Appalachian Homecoming festival, and the very successful Y Holler Backwoodz Bounty that recently attracted thousands of locals and visitors to the area, all of which increase economic activity, improve individual well-being, and provide opportunities to enjoy local events and activities close to home, keeping dollars within the community.

The City of Manchester is hereby strongly encouraged to pursue a refurbishing plan and secure the funding necessary to upgrade and re-open the swimming pool.

With campers setting up at the Governor's Campground at Beech Creek and fishing enthusiasts visiting the Bert T. Combs Lake, it is imperative that the swimming pool become a significant attraction for the community.

A number of potential ideas include:

  • Submit a grant funding request to the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) who has histocially provided funding for a multitude of community development projects.
  • Increasing the parks and recreation budget with general fund appropriations given that a new stream of revenue was created with the alcohol tax that is now subsidizing law enforcement and police operation expenditures.
  • The City might consider creating a public-private partnership (PPP) which provides for a joint enterprise with an entrepreneur which leases the space to an approved entity with support from the City to include free water and trash services with a multi-year lease that would allow the lessee to operate the gates to collect admissions fees, food and vending operations, as well as operate the meeting space for special event programs for family reunions, birthdays, weddings, and other private gatherings.
  • The City might consider a consortium agreement with other official entities to refurbish and open the swimming pool to include the Clay County Fiscal Court, the Seniors Center, the Hospital, the Chamber of Commerce, the health department, the school system, and Promise Neighborhood. This consortium could provide each partner with access to the facility after hours and with special hours of operation such as a health and vitality swim group for seniors, with the implementation of a swimming health and skills for youth, with rehabilitative exercise programs, with a swimming pool for training to field a swimming team for CCMS/CCHS, and a myriad of other possibilities.
  • What needs to happen, what must happen is for the Manchester City Council to take the lead, stop kicking the proverbial can down the road, and provide the leadership and vision necessary to re-open the swimming pool.

    Far too many locals drive out of town for water recreation such as the Barbourville Water Park and the Williamsburg Water Park where they stand in long lines and pay admission fees to enjoy quality time with their children and family members. This can be done, should be done, and must be done!

    With over 20,000 citizens and many thousands more visiting every year we must do more to enhance local recreational opportunities and to increase the number of attractions available to visitors. With a re-opening, with public and private support, it could be possible to expand the pool area to include a large water slide activity or other types of water recreations such as a "lazy float" area or "wave area".

    The intent of this article is not to overtly criticize more than is necessary, but more importantly to facilitate conversations and thoughts on how to resolve the issue successfully to the benefit of local youth, families, and visitors to Manchester-Clay County!

    BIGBARN Radio

     

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