WINCHESTER — Ninety-seven percent of people who responded to a recent online Frederick County Parks and Recreation survey said they would use an indoor aquatics facility, if the county had one.
The survey had 1,147 respondents, Assistant Parks and Recreation Director Jon Turkel said at a Wednesday meeting of the Aquatics Master Plan Committee.
Parks and Recreation Director Jason Robertson said the response shows that an indoor aquatics facility resonates with county residents.
The county doesn’t have an indoor aquatics facility, but one has been in the county’s Capital Improvements Plan (CIP) since 1993. It calls for an $11.8 million, 35,000-square-foot facility.
An indoor aquatics facility also has been identified as a top-desired facility in the 2012 and 2017 Parks and Recreation Community Surveys.
According to a report provided by Turkel, stakeholders such as Frederick County Public Schools, Shenandoah University, disability service groups, swim teams and Winchester Parks and Recreation Department have all agreed on the need for more aquatics space. The report says demand at the indoor pool at Jim Barnett Park in Winchester leads to scheduling issues.
Some committee members wondered if having two indoor pools would be a possibility. Turkel said parks officials will try to get an engineer to provide cost estimates for different scenarios.
Turkel said it’s important that an indoor aquatics center has broad appeal. Committee member Ron Madagan said there may be more of an appeal for children if there are splash pad-like features and that water park features would attract a bigger crowd.
Some survey respondents said they would like a “lazy river” in the new aquatics center, but Madagan doubts there would be funding for it.
During a county budget work session on Wednesday night, Red Bud District Supervisor Blaine Dunn suggested having a voter referendum in the Nov. 3 elections to determine interest in an indoor aquatics facility and how much county taxpayers would be willing to pay for it.
County Administrator Kris Tierney said a referendum is an option.
Frederick County has two existing outdoor pools — one at Sherando Park, the other Clearbrook Park. They were built in the late 1980s and are close to needing significant maintenance investments. Renovation cost estimates are about $250,000 per pool.