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Hope Mills aquatic center moves closer to reality


HOPE MILLS - A proposed aquatic center for Hope Mills is closer to becoming a reality, the town Board of Commissioners was told this week.

The board, which met Monday, had no items for consideration under new or old business.

The update on the aquatic center, which would be done in partnership with the YMCA of the Sandhills, was presented by Mayor Jackie Warner at the start of the meeting. She said the county Board of Commissioners and the county schools have agreed to be partners on the project.

The Cumberland County Board of Education’s Auxiliary Services Committee on March 31 adopted a resolution of intent to enter into an agreement with the YMCA of the Sandhills to lease the use of the center. The school system would pay $4,125 a month for 10 years. The proposal must go before the full school board for final approval. The county commissioners also must approve the agreement.

“As of today, the YMCA has raised close to two million to build the structure,” Warner told the board.

Warner said they are still looking at 18 months until ground can be broken. Construction can’t begin until the YMCA raises another $2.5 million to $3 million, she said.

“But it’s looking like it’s going to happen,” Warner said.

“So we will have a swimming complex, an indoor pool and competitive lanes for Hope Mills,” she said.

The board voted on Dec. 27 to partner with the YMCA to build the aquatic center in town.

Commissioners Kenjuana McCray, Grilley Mitchell and Bryan Marley voted in favor; Commissioners Joanne Scarola and Jerry Legge were opposed.

Rick Houp, chief executive officer of the YMCA of the Sandhills, appeared before the board in December to discuss the proposed aquatic and wellness center that would be built in the heart of Hope Mills. The 49,000-plus-square-foot building would house a large pool that could be used for several purposes. The center would also provide childcare for the community, he told the board.

The aquatic center will house a large pool in a climate-controlled environment that will serve a number of uses, including rehabilitation, gymnastics, recreation swimming and senior programs, Houp said in December.

Under the agreement, the YMCA must gather at least two local partners and pay for construction of the building. The YMCA asked Hope Mills to contribute up to $5,500 a month for 10 years. The money would not be available to the YMCA until the fall of 2023. The money would only be requested if the YMCA is successful in raising $3 million and securing two other partners, Houp said.

Now that Cumberland County Schools and the county Board of Commissioners have signed on as partners, the project is closer to becoming a reality.

“It’s on,” Warner said.

In December, Legge and Scarola raised concerns about the town paying money to support the center and then residents having to pay a membership fee as well.

Scarola told CityView TODAY Tuesday that her concerns regarding the center remain.

Scarola said Cumberland County Schools will pay less for their partnership and will get to use the aquatic center for free.

“I have an issue with that,” Scarola said, “especially since Cumberland County has a larger budget than Hope Mills.’’

“We’re paying so much for something and not going to use it for free,” she said.

In December, Houp told commissioners that the pool aligned with a 2018 survey that asked residents to identify what area of recreation they would like to see in Hope Mills.

“At the top of the list, above all others, was the answer- an indoor aquatic center,” Houp said at the time.

Jason Canady covers Hope Mills for CityViewTODAY. He can be reached at jcanady@cityviewnc.com. Have a news tip? Email news@CityViewTODAY.com.

Hope Mills, Board of Commissioners, aquatic center, YMCA of the Sandhills