Aquatic center a dream for Casey County

June 25, 2004|BRENDA S. EDWARDS

LIBERTY - People interested in water sports gathered Thursday to talk about developing a public aquatic center that could be used for sports and recreation.

After much discussion, some parents agreed to research other water parks. The next meeting will be 7 p.m. July 6 at City Hall.

Some hope to see an Olympic-size pool built that would allow their children to compete in water sports rather than going to neighboring towns. The proposed pool also would be available for recreation for people of all ages and for the entire county.

"We need a pool," said Mayor Steve Sweeney, who chaired the meeting. "I like to swim. I've been involved in water sports all my life. It's a valuable thing for kids."


Sweeney said kids used to swim in Green River but that's not safe now. "Poor kids don't have anywhere to go," he said. Others can use the pool at Hickory Hills Country Club but have to have memberships.

Sweeney said if a pool is built, the county could have a swim team, besides using it for recreation and exercise classes.

"We're talking about different kinds of opportunities for all people, not just for kids," he said.

The 14-member Aquatic Center Research Committee will get information on cost and design. The location, size, whether it will be an indoor or outdoor facility, and fund-raisers will have to be determined.

Later, the committee would have to decide who is allowed to use the pool, fees, and maintenance and operation.

Sweeney said he would like for people to be charged based on income. Some people might have a hard time coming up with money for admission. "We want to be fair to everyone."

Sweeney suggested the pool be put on north side of the city. "I think it would be better to put it where a larger number of people will have access to it. It needs to be in the center of the county, and that's here."

Some suggested sites are Central Kentucky Ag/Expo Center, the old redimix property on the north end of town and Gate Way Park.

The Ag/Expo Center is across Green River, and youngsters would have to go down U.S. 127 to reach the pool. That could be dangerous for bikers and walkers. However, putting a bridge across the river from the downtown section is a possibility.

Gate Way Park belongs to the CatholicDiocese and would be in the floodplain.

Brenda Sanders said land is already available at the Ag/Expo Center.

Sweeney said it might be best to try to get the state Transportation Cabinet to reconstruct an old iron bridge across the river so people can walk across.

Grant money is available to get the bridge or it might be donated by the state, said Arlen Sanders, executive director of the Liberty/Casey County Economic Development Authority. The bridge could be put in place by the city and county. Grants also are available through land and water conservation agencies.

Sanders said if the pool is enclosed in a building, it could be used year round by swin teams at the middle and high schools.

Sweeney said he will help write grant applications for the project. Funds also will have to be raised locally. He said the committee can approach the city and county governments for help and solicit money from business and individuals. He offered City Hall as a place for the committee to meet and work.

If a matching grant is secured, volunteer labor can be obtained from local people, Sweeney said.

"The main thing is to do something for the kids in the city and county and make it a joint venture," said Mike True, who has two daughters who are on swim teams in other towns. He said students at Kentucky Tech Center can help with work at the pool.

"We need to look at something first class and something we can be proud of," said Sweeney. "If it's totally out of the ballpark, we can downsize our dreams."

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