Save Money in this Sunday's paper

comments

Clover school leaders hope planned aquatics center makes a splash

By Catherine Muccigrosso
cmuccigrosso@lakewyliepilot.com

More Information

  • In the bond

    The other four construction projects and cost estimates:

    • The Lake Wylie elementary school at Oakridge Road, across from the middle school, $25 million.

    • The new middle school on Barrett Road in Clover, $40 million.

    • The ninth-grade academy in what is presently Clover Middle School, which would be remodeled and replaced with the new middle school, $10 million.

    • Athletic facility updates include artificial turf and renovations at Memorial Stadium and artificial turf at two other Clover fields: Clover High and Middle, $6 million.

    The balance includes about $4 million for furnishings, equipment, landscaping and other costs.



CLOVER EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the fourth in a series of articles looking at the upcoming Clover School District bond referendum focusing on one of five proposed construction projects.

Clover School District leaders are hoping a proposed aquatic center will make a splash with Lake Wylie and Clover residents when they vote March 22 on the $67 million bond referendum.

The total estimated cost of the construction package is $99 million, school officials say, but the district will make a $32 million down payment. There are five construction projects in the bond.

The $14 million aquatic and fitness center would be built on land owned by the district next to Crowders Creek Elementary School on S.C. 274 in Lake Wylie. It would be owned by the district and operated in partnership with the Upper Palmetto YMCA.

The plan “will mirror very closely” the partnership Rock Hill School District and the YMCA have running the Rock Hill Aquatic Center on Rawlinson Road, said Mychal Frost, Clover School District public information officer.

Moe Bell, CEO of Upper Palmetto YMCA, said the Rock Hill aquatic center has taught 1,800 to 2,000 students every year to swim since opening in February 2005.

“For us, it’s another way to meet our mission to develop Christian personality through programs and it’s a good partnership,” Bell said.

District Superintendent Marc Sosne has said the aquatics center is important because Clover needs to teach swimming lessons to students, and have a place for its high school swim team to practice and compete.

Sosne says swimming “is a life skill” students in a lakeside community need to learn.

“The YMCA is able to provide programs and swim lessons we want to address with our students,” Frost said. “It marries our desires with another community organization and provides a facility to our community that is something we see as a positive.”

According to survey results released in November by independent research firm K12 Insight, 76 percent approved of the partnership with the YMCA, while 24 percent opposed it or said they needed more information about it. A total of 1,802 community members participated in the survey conducted Oct. 15 to Nov. 1, including parents, students, employees and residents in the district’s attendance zones.

Rose Cummings, chairwoman of the “Vote Yes for Education” steering committee and members of the YMCA advisory board, said she’s hopeful the community will want this.

“Every student needs to learn to swim,” she said, “and to be part of curriculum is such an awesome opportunity.”

Frost said there is about 30 acres available for development where the aquatics center would be built.

“The facility would occupy an estimated 10 acres for the facility, parking and possible water park,” he said.

The aquatics facility would be about 55,000 square feet, Frost said, and the main center would include two indoor pools – one cool water, one warm – a basketball gym with elevated track around it, fitness rooms and weight room, and additional space, possibly for racquetball or school needs.

“The additions could include 10,000 square feet for meeting spaces and classrooms,” Frost said, “and an outdoor water park, if funds are available after all other (bond) projects have been met.”

Accessibility

Frost said partnering with the Y is more viable than building a free-standing pool at the high school or on land owned by the district near the administration office, which was not accessible by a highway.

Bell said while the school has the capital, the YMCA has the operational expertise.

“We’re pretty good at it,” he said, saying there are five YMCA pools in York and Chester counties. “Pools are very hard to operate and you need dues to help pay for the bills.”

Clover High School swim coach Joan Epping said having a pool to use year-round “right in our back yard” would be great for the program. The swim program currently uses the outdoor pool at River Hills Country Club for competition.

“The name of the game is having year-round swimmers without which you can’t be competitive,” she said.

She is thankful for the precedent set in Rock Hill; it can help save lives at the lake.

“I think it’s crucial these third-graders learn to swim,” she said. “It’s also crucial to the fitness of the area, kids and adult, and the beauty of everyone learning to swim.”

Bell also said it’s about teaching healthy lifestyles.

“Teaching kids to swim is the focus, but if they learn to swim they’ll be more active,” he said. “Swimming is forever.”

The Rock Hill facility includes membership from throughout York County. The cost for the public to use the Lake Wylie center would likely follow general membership costs, Bell said.

“We never turn anyone down on membership,” he said, explaining there are scholarships and other ways to meet membership fees. “It’s primarily to serve kids, but there will be senior adults using the pool. They find they can do things in the pool they couldn’t do on land.”

Bell said the YMCA pools are in constant use and offer a range of activities from mother-tot and competitive programs, senior adult exercise and therapeutic sessions in water, as well as competitive adult swimming and triathlon training, and more.

“It would just be a dream come true for our community,” said Linda McCallum, YMCA branch director for Lake Wylie and Clover. “Living in a community surrounded by water and not having a place to teach children to swim, we have a critical need.”

She said the YMCA buses about 450 summer day campers to the Rock Hill and Fort Mill facility for swimming and lessons.

“Keeping them close to home gives them more swim time, and increases the quality of the experience and safety, as well,” McCallum said.

The 656 children in the after school programs held at the district’s six elementary schools could combine at this facility, she said.

She also said there are many programs the YMCA could continue at the Lake Wylie location in the Lakeside West shopping center, which opened almost two years ago.

“Typically, when we open, we never close another one,” she said.

Bell said the new facility could serve a lot of different people in a lot of ways.

“The Y becomes the community center and attracts all kinds of people,” he said. “It’s flattering to know we’re going to be able to pull the community together.”

Tax facts

Frost said thanks to the YMCA maintenance, “not having to pay for that with tax dollars obviously is a cost-savings to the district.”

Homeowners shouldn’t expect higher property taxes if the bond passes, school officials say, because bonds sold in 2006 will be expiring.

“While we’ve lowered our tax burden on the community other counties have increased,” Frost said. “The school portion of the tax will go down. “

Officials say in 2007 homeowners paid $136 per $100,000 value and that will go down to $96 per $100,000 in 2014.

“The millage rate impact for the bond would increase millage from 24 to 35 mils,” Frost said.

The impact would cost an estimated $6 on a $10,000 vehicle property tax, he said.

“Effectively, if the bond is unsuccessful, the millage rate would remain relatively the same with minimal savings,” Frost said.

The district’s construction project manager is Cumming Corp. The aquatic center is designed by architect LS3P.

Bonds are only for capital growth, not teachers salaries and staff, which would come from the district’s general operations budget.

Catherine Muccigrosso •  803-831-8166
Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.

Have a news tip? You can send it to a local news editor; email local@charlotteobserver.com to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Charlotte Observer.

  Read more



Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.

Have a news tip? You can send it to a local news editor; email local@charlotteobserver.com to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Charlotte Observer.

  Read more


Quick Job Search
Salary Databases
CharlotteObserver.com