As the summer heat sets in, Culpeper officials are once again considering building a public swimming pool for this growing community that still lacks one.
The Culpeper County Buildings and Grounds Committee discussed Tuesday morning a proposal from the City of Culpeper for a joint outdoor community pool project at the county’s sports complex next to Eastern View High School. The pool would be open from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
The town of Culpeper has been very interested in trying to create a swimming pool for the community, County Administrator John Egertson said when presenting the agenda item to the committee.
The city and county, in fact, have considered the issue of public aquariums for at least 25 years, but a pool has yet to see the light of day.
The city’s latest idea may be to put a swimming pool in the sports complex, Egertson said. Under an initial proposal, the city would cover construction costs, the county would provide land and parking, and the two local governments would share maintenance costs.
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A city consultant estimated current costs at $5.6 million to build the six-lane pool.
County Parks and Recreation Director Andrew Hardy on Tuesday showed off a pool concept identical to the Doris Buffett Pool in Fredericksburg.
The proposed location would be behind the new sports complex whose construction is imminent.
Hardy called it an opportunity to provide a community pool for the city and county, something many residents have expressed a desire to have over the years, he said.
A swimming pool at the sports complex is only exploratory at this stage, he added, seeking the advice of the committee.
The projected pool would have six lanes, a zero-entry family pool, two bathhouses, a concession stand, and potentially a kiddy pool.
A 127-space parking lot would be nearby.
“It fits perfectly into this pie-shaped package,” Hardy said, noting that a kiddy pool at the facility would cover an audience ranging from toddlers to active seniors.
Catalpa supervisor Paul Bates noted that the city’s project, over the past three months, had changed from a year-round downtown pool to a seasonal resort pool.
Mayor Frank Reaves, as part of his campaign platform, proposed putting a swimming pool on city-owned property behind the depot, across the tracks. The idea failed to gain traction, however, due to access issues as well as proximity to the National Cemetery.
Bates said Tuesday his “big concern” with a pool at the sports complex was that the county was burdened with recurring operational costs. Other local public pools are operating in the red, he said.
Hardy said Buffett Pool’s annual operations in Fredericksburg are about $178,000 with annual revenue below that. He considered a cost-sharing agreement with the city to cover running costs.
County Council Chairman Gary Deal said the goal was for the city and county to share operating costs. Deal has long advocated for a public pool in Culpeper, most recently in 2018 through the YMCA. Voters rejected the concept in a 2018 referendum.
“It’s something that’s been talked about for a long time and a pool that our families and kids need,” Deal said.
The wading pool installed at the city’s Rockwater Park in 2019 is so popular that vehicles trying to park there on weekends line up to Madison Road, Deal said.
“Our community hasn’t had a public pool in a very long time. Hopefully we can make it happen,” he said, calling it a great opportunity to partner with the city.
The availability of parking around the sports complex could accommodate pool users during the three-month season, Hardy told the committee, as some members have raised concerns about parking.
“With the seasonal component, it can work out,” he said of sharing parking with sports teams. The complex’s parking lots are connected by sidewalks, he added.
Deal made a motion to forward the proposal without committee recommendation to the oversight board for review in August.
Bates seconded the motion “to get more information on the table.” The motion passed unanimously.