An Aquatics Center Partnership
Back in November 2012, Dorchester District 2 constituents passed a two-part referendum authorizing debt instruments to finance new public school buildings. One specific proposal authorized the school district to spend up to $7.5 million on a swimming pool facility.
It might have been widely accepted in Summerville that this translated into a new 25-yard pool facility for the Summerville YMCA to be built at The Ponds subdivision. But Mayor Keith Summey had previously declared that North Charleston has long range plans to build an aquatics center in the Dorchester Road corridor.
So, following the referendum, we began discussing with the school board a concept of merging these two plans with a partnership that would design and build an aquatics center featuring an Olympic-sized pool complex ……with plenty of space for swimming instruction, general public use, senior citizens exercise programs and year-round high school swim team practices and competitive swim meets. The concept is a spacious facility to be developed on the 12-plus acres at Patriot Boulevard and Appian Way, adjacent to the Fort Dorchester High School campus, and its expansive parking area. This land is jointly owned by our city and the school board.
The school board’s $7.5 million authorization must be pledged to capitalization only. So, the city would invest an additional $3.5 million to $5 million to construct the facility, and then it would become a part of North Charleston’s parks and recreation operations. Priorities would be established for grade school swim lessons and accommodation of high school swim teams. The model generally matches the city’s Danny Jones swimming complex near Park Circle.
For the school board, the facility’s operations would be larger and more state-of-the-art. Programs and maintenance would be assured by the city. For our city, the aquatics center vision would be realized far sooner, with capital costs shared by the monies authorized in the 2012 bonding referendum.
Over the last six weeks, discussions with District 2 became more focused, as the school board asked for formal proposals. Mayor Summey personally met with the school board March 2 to clarify nearly a year of “what’s best for the public” discussions. Our city council finance committee held a special workshop meeting Wednesday evening.
And on Thursday evening, following a long executive session, the school board voted to enter into contract negotiations with the city.
And that is excellent news, indeed.
This is not a done deal, though. The detailed term sheet will be hammered out by attorneys and then a final agreement must be formally approved by the school board and city council. This will be a very transparent process with many public forums.
There is understandable objection among many Summerville residents who fairly believe the referendum was intended solely for the YMCA’s development plans. It’s is a reminder to all, that 27,000 North Charlestonians reside in Dorchester County — and we are taxpaying constituents of Dorchester District 2, also.
So, this concept must now be translated into a well-negotiated plan and a carefully-considered project. We have a long way to travel, but the school board and the city have taken a giant step toward creating a project that will enhance qualities of living throughout our community — and provide taxpayers a bigger bang for the $7.5 million bucks authorized in the 2012 referendum. I will keep you posted.
MAJOR REPAVING PROJECTS NEARING
Bids are in and construction planning conferences are underway. Within six weeks or so – maybe sooner –we’ll see repaving underway of Patriot Boulevard, between Appian Way and Ashley Phosphate, Patriot Boulevard, between Ashley Phosphate and Industrial Avenue, at the back boundary of Festival Center, and on Club Course Drive, from Dorchester Road and Patriot Boulevard. These long overdue projects are being financed jointly by the city and Dorchester County which is allocating its share of the state gasoline tax rebates to counties. (This “share” is about $1.1 million annually for the entire county.)
What’s That Trailer Doing At Wescott Boulevard at Patriot?
D.R. Horton owns the property but apparently has no immediate plans for residential development. The trailer reportedly will be a sales office for the company’s curious Sunrise development now underway at the Patriot “Hairpin.”
What’s Up With The New Wescott Circle Design?
As announced a year ago, the city’s traffic engineers and police traffic-flow professionals have redesigned the traffic flows to provide for – let us hope – safer pedestrian and vehicle movements at the circle. This became very important after pedestrian crosswalks were installed. The lane markings have been significantly upgraded, too.
(Nothing new to report about the timetable for the assisted living campus planned at the Wescott Circle. Construction was supposed to be underway in February. Project plans are still being processed in the city’s zoning and planning department.)
Please check in often at www.northcharleston.org Our city’s website has been upgraded with easy-to-use links providing information on just about every aspect of city services. This includes requests for services that can expedite responses to your needs.
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