MERIDIAN - It seems a little late in the year now to be thinking about swimming pools, as the weather has begun to feel a little more like fall. But that's exactly what one Meridian group is doing. The group, Friends of Meridian's Future, is hoping to gain enough support to build two more community pools.
"We're looking at transforming Meridian. This is really a project that makes a difference for the community now, but it makes a difference for future generations," Aaron Elton with Friends of Meridian's Future said.
The new south YMCA in Meridian is expected to break ground in November. The complex includes a city park and the new Hillside Elementary School, but won't include a pool.
Elton along with the Friends of Meridian's Future are hoping to change that. The group is asking for a 20-year bond seeking $20 million on this year's ballot to build two new aquatic centers.
"So if you have a home that has a hundred thousand dollar value, piece of real estate paying property tax, you'll pay annually $14.52," Elton said.
Half of that money would be used to build the aquatic center at the south Meridian YMCA. The other half of the money would be used to help build another facility, much like the one in south Meridian, but in north Meridian.
"We have a site picked out in north Meridian that will be another great facility that we expect to build within six years," Elton said.
The bond was passed by the Western Ada Recreation District, who operates Meridian's only public pool, by a vote of 2 to 1. Commissioner Shaun Wardle voted against the bond.
"I think that this is a huge tax increase that is very short on details and there's no operational plan," Wardle said.
The recreation district would pay to build the aquatic center, while the YMCA would cover operation costs. The district would also be responsible for capital maintenance over the years.
"The Western Ada Recreation District needed to budget $150,000 annually for improvements. Again, our total budget for 2016 was just over a million dollars," Wardle said.
Wardle believes this is just too big of a project for the district to handle.
"We don't have a capital improvements project or a plan currently," Wardle said.
It's a decision voters will have to decide on November 8th.
"If we really want this thing in there then the taxpayers can tell us. The community can tell us," Elton said.
Elton says if the bond does pass in the November election they'll move forward with the design of the aquatic center. If the bond fails, the YMCA in south Meridian will be built regardless, but without a pool.
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