Local News

Cary Might Dive Into Public-Private Pool Partnership

Posted February 29, 2008 3:28 p.m. EST
Updated March 4, 2008 12:57 a.m. EST

— The Town of Cary has yet to build a municipal swimming pool, but that could be changing.

Leaders put a $24 million aquatics center proposal on hold. However, another option could cut the price in half and allow the town to build more pools.

YMCA officials said they have met with each town council member and the mayor to discuss a possible partnership.

While their discussions are in the “very early stages,” one possible scenario has Cary providing land and up to $12 million for construction costs.

Cary leaders said they hope the YMCA could then manage and operate the facility. Leaders said this would let Cary reduce taxpayers' costs.

Also in preliminary discussions, town leaders say the YMCA expressed interest in building as many as six pools, but it was unclear how many actual centers that could be.

Council Member Jack Smith said he brought up the idea six years ago, but the council at the time had no interest.

"I've got to believe that we can find a win-win relationship where we both save cost and yet we provide a wide-range of recreational activities to our citizens,” he said. "I'm a strong believer in public-private partnerships for recreational amenities. The opportunity is there to see if there's any synergy."

A piece of land and near Carolyn Dowdy’s house in West Cary is being considered for one of two proposed sites for an aquatics center.

“I really would love to see an indoor/outdoor pool. That would be great,” she said.

The two potential sites include one near North Cary Park off Cary Parkway and another in West Cary near Green Level to Durham Road. Cary's current $24 million proposal calls for a community center with three pools — two indoors, one outdoors.

Dawn Cross, a resident who organized a petition to keep the aquatics center in West Cary, said the area's booming growth makes it an ideal site to serve citizens.

"We really have never asked for an aquatics center per se," she said. "We have been asking for community center services."

However, some West Cary residents said they have concerns about YMCA membership dues.

“We have mixed housing types of community here, mixed income, and it really wouldn’t allow for some groups in the community to actually use the facilities,” Cross said.

Council members said there could be discounted rates, but talks are still in the early stages.

Cary leaders said they'll ask town staff to draw up a more detailed proposal to present to the public. A YMCA spokesperson says the organization is in talks with "a number of communities" about expanding its service.