A task force overseeing the planning for an indoor-outdoor swimming pool complex in Magna is now considering the formation of a special service district to fund the $2 million project.
The creation of the service district would generate funds to help pay for the pools' construction and maintenance. The Granite School District and the Salt Lake County Commission would also help fund the project.Salt Lake County Commissioner Mike Stewart endorsed the service district proposal Wednesday night during a crowded community hearing at the Magna Recreation Center.
Stewart said the service district would allow Magna residents to build the project and buy additional property in the future to construct tennis courts, soccer fields and other facilities.
"We feel strongly as a commission that this pool (Cyprus pool) needs to be replaced as quickly as possible," Stewart said. But "this all takes money. We're competing in this project with overpasses, improvement districts and senior citizens, but dreams come true."
The 19-member task force began planning the construction of the pools in Pleasant Green Park after the Granite school board closed the Cyprus High School pool in March due to structural problems. The pool, built in 1955, was the only one available to the community.
Parents and students at the hearing accused the school board of closing the Cyprus High School pool prematurely and providing no alternative services to athletes who used the facility frequently.
"I'm upset about the pool's closure," said Amber Kaye Kershaw, 18, a Cyprus High School swim team member. "We raised money to buy starting blocks and other things we needed for that pool and now we don't get to use it."
Kershaw said the pool's closure has also reduced the number of swimmers in the school's swimming team from 35 to 10. "We've literally died," she said.
Trinton L. Thomas, 17, said, "This has been a real inconvenience. I agree the pool at Cyprus was old and needed to be closed, but I believe we deserve something else."
Donna Strange, 17, said, "These are all good ideas, but the fact is that we are still without a pool and probably will be for a long time."
Stewart said the commission has allocated approximately $180,000 for the construction of a picnic area at Pleasant Green Park, but said the funds could easily be diverted for the swimming pools' construction. In addition, Stewart said the county could allocate $160,000 toward planning and designing the complex.
Task force member Steve Harris said the community has been hurt by the closure of the Cyprus pool because Magna was considered the "swimming capital of Utah."
Other task force members said age group swimming in Utah started in Magna and that the Cyprus High School swimming team has won more than 10 state championships. They also said Cyprus High School has had more all-American swimmers than any other school in the state.
Granite School Board Member Judy Larson said although the board hasn't officially allocated funds to help construct the pools, it is supportive of the project.
"There's a commitment by the board to do something, but we're limited by the funding," Larson said. "There usually is no equal opportunity . . . You had a pool before other people did . . . So at various times somebody has been without."
Delone Hayes, another task force member, said the community is also concerned because the school board cut swimming programs districtwide several months ago due to financial uncertainties.
Hayes, who is also president of Pirate Swim Team, an age-group swim program in Magna, said the board is considering closure of the pool at Kearns High School, which the district rents during school time.
The possible closure of the Kearns pool would mean that two pools would be out of service for residents on the west side of the valley, Hayes said.