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Raleigh Leaders Dive Into Aquatic Study

Raleigh leaders want to know if the city needs more pools, so the city is diving into a major aquatics study.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Raleigh hasn’t built a new pool since 1986, so officials have hired a Triangle consulting firm to study Raleigh's population and demographics and assess the need for pools.

“How does a pool like this size serve an area, and where strategically do we put another pool?” said Raleigh Parks and Recreation planner Stephen Bentley.

Raleigh Parks and Recreations officials said the city has grown so fast that pools haven't kept up.

Among cities similar in size to Raleigh, Austin, Texas, has one of the highest numbers of city-owned pools at 49. Omaha, Neb., has 18. Raleigh has eight.

The study will also look at other aquatic options, such as wading pools for children and warm-water pools for seniors.

“Just being able to provide more recreational opportunities -- spray grounds, water slides -- that make aquatics facilities more attractive in the long haul,” said Raleigh aquatics director Terri Stroupe.

Jason Bacarro with North Carolina State University tracks recreation issues nationally. He said that because they serve a wide age range, communities are investing in more than traditional pools.

“Pools are recognizing they have to be a lot more multi-use,” Bacarro said.

Tracey Wilson logs her water jogs at Pullen Park, but she said she'd love to go to a pool closer to her home.

“I drive a pretty good ways to get here. But I think if we had more facilities like this across Raleigh, it would be fabulous,” Wilson said.

The $50,000 aquatics study starts in March and will take a year to complete. Public meetings will also be scheduled to gather input.

The study will also look at whether Raleigh needs a regional aquatics center. Cary has two in the works.

The privately funded Triangle Aquatic Center is set to open this fall. The Town of Cary also plans to build a regional swimming venue.

Raleigh leaders say consultants will factor in what other Wake County towns are building before determining Raleigh's needs.