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Push is on for new aquatic center

GRANDVIEW - The Grandview Parks and Recreation Service Area Board began strategizing Thursday night, one of the first steps to building a new aquatic center in the community.

The board started Thursday's meeting by approving a contract with TSE Architecture, Engineering, Planning, the same group that designed the first aquatic center the city tried to pass a levy for in 2000.

The contract lays out what TSE will be doing for the city and the estimated cost for the first part of the planning for the aquatic center, which is $10,500. An additional $5,240 will be charged for work by Margaret Norton-Arnold, a public involvement and communications consultant.

The first phase of the campaign includes gathering public input as to what local residents would like to see in an aquatic center. According to Grandview Parks and Recreation Director Mike Carpenter, the first workshop is tentatively scheduled for Oct. 23.

The planning would also include putting a price tag on the center.

"We want to know what it will cost or close to it before we get into the workshops," said Carpenter.

He explained that knowing the costs will help them know where they need to cut back or where they can expand. Carpenter added that they also requested that projected revenue brought in from the facility also be calculated.

The second phase of the planning involves community outreach and awareness. Carpenter said this is where a "SPLASH!" committee would come into play. He said a SPLASH! committee will be essential to passing the levy needed for a new swimming facility.

Carpenter said they have already collected more than 300 swimming pool surveys to gather public input on the pool issue. He said they have collected surveys from senior citizens, civic leaders and service club members, as well as pool patrons.

Just as important is choosing the right date to hold the bond election, said Carpenter.

He said that TSE consultants have said that by the beginning April the two phases of the campaign should be complete and Grandview will be ready for the vote.

Carpenter said that election dates after the first of April include April 26 and May 17, 2005.

"Both of these dates fit within the architects' time frame," said Carpenter.

No other elections are known to be planned for the same time.

"It's not necessary to set a date tonight. We might want to get some of the workshops and meetings with the architect done before we set a date," said parks board Chairman Dave Copeland.

One concern about a spring date that Mayor Mike Bren addressed is that Grandview residents would have just paid property and income taxes when the levy would be up for vote.

On the other hand, by having it in the spring, outreach to the youths in the Grandview schools will be more effective.

Bren said that what may help the levy is that by next April, property taxes in Grandview could go down because the Wal-Mart distribution center will be added into the tax base.

"You could capitalize on the drop in their property taxes," said Bren. He added that Wal-Mart head coach Rick Gray has announced that they will be starting the hiring process for 200 more people in January.

"They're going to be having the first promotions within the company," said Bren. "That is going to make a lot of local people managers out there."

The city-wide utility tax ends next year as well, said Bren.

The board is also looking at ways to promote the election. Besides the use of signs and banners, the board is looking at a "shepherding" method, which targets voters who would most likely vote for the aquatic center and encourage them to show up at the polls.

The levy would have to pass by a 60 percent margin or greater for the aquatic center to be approved.

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