News From Terre Haute, Indiana

August 14, 2013

Vigo still mulling own pool project

County Council considering study to see if aquatics center still feasible

Howard Greninger
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — A proposed Vigo County-owned aquatics center funded from user fees, income taxes, events and tourism now rests with county commissioners.

Bill Thomas, president of the Vigo County Council, on Tuesday asked Councilwoman Kathy Miller, D-3rd, chair of the council’s special projects committee, to meet with county commissioners to determine if the project should move forward.

“Create a dialog with commissioners and check into the possibility of doing a feasibility study,” Thomas said.

After the meeting, Thomas said the cost of such a study would likely come from council budget funds.

Miller presented the proposed $20 million project to the council. It would include a two-story indoor 65-meter pool that could be divided for competition into a 50-meter pool, plus a 25-yard wide diving well. The pool would be 7 to 10 feet deep with 22 lanes.

The Vigo County Aquatics Center could have seating for 2,000 and accommodate 900 athletes. It would include a therapy pool and instructional pool.

Miller said the county’s project is separate from a $9.8 million swimming facility the Vigo County School Board unanimously approved Monday. The School Board approved preliminary determination and bond resolution, which advance that project and set parameters.

Miller said the main portion of the project is a two-story, 16,007-square-foot indoor aquatic center. Miller said development of an outdoor facility can be done in stages. The center’s revenues in part hinge on attracting no less than three collegiate events a year — one a conference championship or national championship and two invitational events.

“Eighty percent of the [NCAA] Division III schools last year flew over us to go to Texas to compete in the nationals,” Miller said.

Miller said a four-day event in a facility in Texas generated $1.5 million in economic benefit.

“The potential for making that kind of impact here is great and I think it is worth considering and worth looking into,” Miller said. “As a county we already host the nationals for cross country and we are know to be a capable community of hosting events of that size and capacity. This would be one other venue that we could bring a large number of people to our community.”

n In other business, the council approved $32,890 to be used for the salary of a program director, along with $10,000 for a part-time employee, for the Wabash Valley Mobile Market.

The mobile market is a trailer towed behind a pickup truck that will deliver fruits and vegetables to areas consider “food deserts” that do not have easy access to grocery stores, rather just convenience stores, which do not provide fresh fruits/vegetables.

It is part of a joint venture with the United Way of the Wabash Valley. The mobile market will cost $74,799 in the first year. It is part of the Community Health Initiative through the United Way, which obtained $100,000 from a grant last year from the Indiana Association of United Ways.

The United Way has budgeted $56,000 from that grant to pay for the mobile market, along with a Family Teaching Kitchen and an exercise component to be established, Troy Fears, executive director of the United Way, said when contacted Tuesday.

“We will go to various spots around the city of Terre Haute and other locations starting in late September of early October and go year round. We will go to spots for one hour and try to hit three to five different spots a day,” Fears said of the Mobile Market.

“We will sell fruits and vegetables to anybody and will take food stamps,” he said. While the idea is to help serve lower income areas, the trailer is open to any person to obtain vegetables and fruits at a lower cost, Fears said.

The county’s funds are coming from the Indiana Local Health Trust Account, which include tobacco funds. The fund paid for Automatic Electronic Defibrillators (AEDs) in the courthouse, a trailer for lawn mowers used by the county building inspection department, a tire amnesty day and a county CPR program.

Norbert Gotschling, a former downtown restaurant owner, will serve as the program director, Fears said.

Joni Wise, administrator of the Vigo County Health Department, said the United Way has also obtained corporate three-year sponsorships — Union Hospital committed to funding $30,000 a year for three years; Terre Haute Regional Hospital for $10,000 per year for three years; and Clabber Girl $5,000 per year for three years to fund the Mobile Market.

n The 2014 Vigo County Budget received first reading. Overall, the county’s budget estimate is $54,462,251. The maximum estimated funds to be raised, including appeals and levies exempt from maximum levy limitations, is $34,049,346.

The county is slated to adopt the 2014 budget on Sept. 10.



Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached at 812-231-4204 or howard.greninger@tribstar.com.