WOOD RIVER — The summer might be dying down, but for residents of Wood River, a new pool is one step closer to opening.
Voters approved a $4.98 million pool bond in a special election on Tuesday by a vote of 184 to 109.
A 1.5 percent sales tax was also passed, 184 to 106.
Mayor Greg Cramer said the approval of the pool project is a long time coming, and it’s the first step in helping the community of about 1,300 grow.
“We’ve worked hard. We’ve worked for a lot of years to get something going like this,” he said. “And we’re finally moving our town forward.”
The plan involves using the almost $5 million in bonds to build a new swimming pool within city limits. It is slated to include a zero-depth entry and splash pad, swim lanes, diving boards, a tube slide and a lazy river, and it will be located north of the fire hall and near the high school.
The city acquired its current pool in the last year, but it is located at the golf course about three miles outside of town.
City Councilman Eric Nielsen said it was also built in the 1960s and is in bad shape.
“The pool at the golf course has really served the community for the last 40, almost 50 years now,” he said. “But it’s worn out. It’s shot.”
With the approval of the bond, Cramer said, the city can now move forward on replacing it.
Final plans will be drawn up, he said, and bidding could start in February. The goal is to begin construction in spring 2016 and open the pool for the 2017 season.
Though the cost might have initially seemed intimidating to some residents, Cramer said, those who have been involved in the project have tried hard to keep costs down. For the $4.98 million in bonds, he said, taxpayers could have paid about $350 for a $100,000 home.
Because of fundraising efforts, however, Cramer said the actual amount will be lower.
They have received $1.1 million in donations, including a $1 million gift from the Grace and Donna Rae Koepp Foundation. Cramer said the city will also contribute $100,000 a year, including some from a service fee they receive from the ethanol plant there, and estimate it will receive another $100,000 from the approved sales tax measure.
All of that means taxpayers can expect to pay $85 per $100,000 of valuation for at least the first 10 years of the 20-year bond, Cramer said.
Nielsen added that the city hopes to build on that, too.
“We’ll keep moving forward now,” he said. “Now we can start applying for grants, and the capital campaign can keep taking donations.”
Both he and Cramer said approval of the project means added opportunities for growth in Wood River.
Cramer said now that the pool is moving forward, Wood River also hopes to develop more housing in that area. Having added amenities like a pool help make Wood River stand out, he said, and it might draw more people into the area.
“We’re a bedroom community,” he said. “People go to work in Kearney, Hastings and Grand Island. We’re just trying to get more people to come to our community.”
Nielsen agreed. He said this day is a long time coming for Wood River, and the support shows that the residents are committed to the future.
“This tells me that the community supports projects like this,” he said. “The community wants to see the betterment of the community and see the community grow.”
Source : http://www.theindependent.com/communities/woodriver/news/wood-river-community-to-welcome-brand-new-swimming-pool/article_c0ddbf64-40a2-11e5-93ff-17bc6562ad24.html