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Swimming Pool


Answers to the most frequently asked questions are below and will continue to be updated based on questions received from community members.

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  • How is this Aquatic Center initiative different from previous efforts?
    From the beginning, community members have led and driven this initiative. A group of volunteers known as the Swim Friends of Mid-Michigan began the early planning and raised money to contract with the Isaac Sports Group, a national aquatics consulting firm, to complete a feasibility study. The feasibility study concluded that there were significant needs in the community and provided clarity on the size and type of facility that would be needed to meet community demand while being financially sustainable. Facility features and planned programs were developed based on input from more than 30 user groups. The outcomes of the study led the City of Mount Pleasant, Union Township, and the Mount Pleasant Public School Board to establish the Mid-Michigan Aquatics Recreational Authority (MMARA). The MMARA board is made up of community member volunteers with the expertise needed to advance and manage the success of this initiative. From the beginning, the Aquatic Center has been done by and for the community. ​ The state-of-the-art aquatic center will have two bodies of water. One pool is a 25-yard stretch pool with 8 lanes, with another 4 lanes on the other side of a moveable bulkhead. There also are two diving boards. The second pool, which is a warmer water pool, has space for teaching, therapy, and rehab. This smaller pool has both swimming/walking lanes plus a therapy channel with water resistance that can be increased or decreased depending on individual needs. This two-pool model not only supports the identified demand in our community but also allows for the Aquatic Center to have a sustainable business model.
  • What will be included in the Aquatic Center?
    The Aquatic Center will have two bodies of water. One pool is a 25-yard stretch pool with 8 lanes, with another 4 lanes on the other side of a moveable bulkhead. There also are two diving boards. The second pool, which is a warmer water pool, has space for teaching, therapy and rehab. This smaller pool has both swimming/walking lanes plus a therapy channel with water resistance that can be increased or decreased depending on individual needs. Both pools will have ramp, stair and lift entry to support access to all. Additionally, the warmer water teaching and therapy pool will have in-water bench seating around different pool sections. There also will be stadium and deck seating for events, with space for 900 spectators and participants.
  • What are the millage details?
    MMARA, established as a legal authority under Michigan's Recreational Authorities Act 321, will ask voters in the City of Mount Pleasant, Charter Township of Union, and the Mount Pleasant Public School District to approve a tax assessment on February 27, 2024. The millage will provide the funding for constructing, equipping, and furnishing a new indoor community aquatic center for public use. The estimated simple average annual millage rate is 1.00 mill ($1.00 per $1,000 of taxable value). The estimated annual cost for a homeowner with a house valued at $150,000 is approximately $75 per year, or $6 per month, for a period not to exceed 25 years.
  • Who gets to vote on February 27?
    Residents in the Mount Pleasant School District, Union Township, and the City of Mount Pleasant will have the opportunity to vote on the Aquatic Center bond proposal. The proposal must pass in all three voting districts for it to be approved. If it does not pass in any one of the three voting districts, the bond proposal will fail to be approved.
  • Where will the Aquatic Center be located?
    On vacant property across from the Mt. Pleasant High School soccer fields near Preston and Sweeney.​
  • What will it cost to use the new Aquatic Center?
    There will be many ways to use the Aquatic Center. You might sign up for a specific class like paddle boarding or water yoga. You might join an age group or master swim team. You might come and participate in some family fun nights. You might send your child to one of the summer camp programs. You might sign up for a learn to swim class. All of these opportunities and more will be accessible to the community and will have program-specific fee structures associated with them. Some will choose to join as a member. Membership costs projections are derived from a comparison study that included: Cadillac Area YMCA Charlotte Aquatic Center CMU Student Activity Center Greater Midland Community Center Holland Aquatic Center Morey Courts Recreation Center Otsego County Sportsplex Holland Aquatic Center ​ Membership options will continue to be reviewed and adjusted based on community need/feedback, in consultation with the Aquatic Director. Membership will include full access to the Aquatic Center. The facility will be available to anyone to use, though residents of the City of Mt. Pleasant, Union Township, and Mt. Pleasant Public School District will receive a discount. Financial assistance and program scholarships will be available. ​ Estimated membership rates are available below.
  • When will the new Aquatic Center open?
    Once the funding is approved, the design development and construction is projected to last two to three years with a targeted opening in spring of 2027.
  • When will community members be able to use the Aquatic Center?
    One of the primary considerations we had when developing the business model was ensuring community members have access to the facility during all hours of operation. We have built a detailed projected use schedule for each quarter of the year. Every hour the Aquatic Center is open, there is designated space saved for community use. ​ When large swimming competitions are happening, the community will still have access to the smaller, warmer water teaching and therapy pool. Large-scale events that require both pools would be rare and communicated well in advance.
  • What happens if the bond proposal does not pass?
    The MMARA was formed in October 2020 and given four years to develop a plan for a community aquatic center that could meet the community’s needs in a financially sustainable manner. The board has used this time to extensively research and plan this initiative, continuously reviewing the financial models and plans to adjust for changes in costs and projected revenues. The final model proposed is based on very conservative revenue estimates with elevated expense projections to support risk reduction within the financial model. If the bond proposal does not pass in February, there will not be another vote on this issue. The MMARA will be dissolved in October 2024.
  • What will it cost to build and maintain a new Aquatic Center?
    The estimated cost to develop the Aquatic Center is $23.5 million. Capital funding will come from an MMARA bond levy. Annual operating costs of the Aquatic Center will be covered by membership, use, and program revenue in a financially sustainable model with no additional tax dollars required from residents. The operational model includes allocations to a Long Term Capital Replacement and Maintenance Reserve, ensuring long-term viability of the Aquatic Center.
  • How can we be assured that the construction project won't be millions of dollars over budget?
    The construction costing has been updated multiple times during the planning/designing process. In fact, the construction budget was updated as recently as November 2023 using numbers from a similar project that was just completed in Otsego, MI, located south of Grand Rapids. The MMARA board has two members who have extensive large project construction management expertise, and they have worked in conjunction with our aquatic consultants and our contracted architectural firm, Tower Pinkster, which was selected after an RFP process because of their experiences working on other aquatic center building projects.
  • Tell me more about the operational budget model.
    The revenue model was again built in coordination with our aquatic consultants. Part of the modeling came directly from the feasibility study in which local potential user groups were interviewed and letters of intent to use the facility were collected. In addition, the following were used as comparisons in determining member rates/membership numbers, swim lesson rates/numbers and outside user rental/use and more: Midland Community Center, Saginaw YMCA, Charlotte Aquatic Center, Otsego (Gaylord) County Sportsplex, Cadillac YMCA, CMU/SAC, Mt. Pleasant Country Club (swim lesson costin numbers only), Holland Aquatic Center (swim lesson costing only), Gold Fish Swim School (swim lesson costing only), Morey Courts (membership rates only). In Addition to these comparables, we also gained insight via our consultant of other aquatic centers located in a similar geographic area. ​ In building the revenue model, the goal was to be very conservative in our estimates based on the data we collected from other aquatic centers. This means we lowered the revenue estimates even though our data might have suggested otherwise. ​ The opposite was true as we built the expense side of the Aquatic Center business model we were very liberal in our estimates. Again, using financial details from other aquatic centers, we did not anticipate any cost savings. If anything, we rounded our numbers up to build in a buffer in case costs increased. The expense model includes line items from long-term maintenance expenses to credit card fee expenses. Nothing was too small for us to leave out of our projections.
  • What about long-term maintenance and repair?
    Each year, a designated amount of revenue will be saved to ensure that by year 20, when we anticipate some larger maintenance expenses such as re-tiling the smaller warmer water teaching and therapy pool, we will have $3 million available to ensure the facility is maintained. The budget also has annual maintenance line items to support the general upkeep and maintenance that will be required annually.
  • What happens if you don't meet the revenue targets?
    In building the revenue model, the goal was to be very conservative in the estimates based on the data collected from other aquatic centers. The MMARA lowered the revenue estimates even though the data might have suggested otherwise. The revenue model is divided into 14 different revenue categories, including membership, learn-to-swim programming, club and training rental, group rental, competitive event rental, camps and clinics, and aquatic fitness/training & therapy. This diversification of the revenue streams lowers risk. It is true sometimes the best-laid plans don’t work out as planned. The MMARA board has discussed this and has already started to make plans for adjustment. We have built worst-case scenario models, which consider reductions of up to 25% for different revenue categories. With this, we have also then planned for what variable expenses can/would need to be reduced to support operational sustainability. Any new initiative has risks, and there is no way to eliminate risk totally, but using data from other aquatic centers as well as preparing for alternative financial scenarios significantly minimizes the risk of this initiative.
  • How will we know how the money is being spent?
    The MMARA board is not only committed but required to be fiscally transparent. Annually, the MMARA will be required to conduct an independent audit, which will be published on their website. Ensure financial accountability. Taxpayers will be able to know how every penny is being spent. ​
  • Who are the MMARA Board Members, and why should we trust they are equipped to manage this significant investment?
    The MMARA board members are appointed by the following Boards/Commissions: Union Township (2 appointments), City of Mount Pleasant (2 appointments), Mount Pleasant Public Schools (1 appointment), and there are two at large positions which the MMARA board can fill at their discretion. ​ John Zang, chairman Retired Director of Public Works, with experience in facility management and pool maintenance Allison Chiodini, secretary Registered architect and project manager with experience overseeing large-scale construction projects Lisa Diaz Sytsema, treasurer Business consultant specializing in leadership development and organizational strategy, including the design of sustainable start-up initiatives Stan Shingles Recreational professional for 40 years with experience in aquatics management Dr. Mark Stansberry Physical therapist and local business owner Judy Wagley An avid swimmer who has served on an aquatics recreation board in another community
  • Are there plans for financial assistance programs?
    The operational budget includes funds for need-based support, and the MMARA is committed to growing this need-based fund to help support access to all. Additionally, membership will not be a prerequisite for program participation. This means if a student wants to join the age group swim club, if an adult wants to join the master swim program, or if a family wants to participate in one of the special family fun nights, there will be need-based support to access these programs as well. Additionally, the MMARA board is committed to ensuring every 3rd grader has access to learn to swim via their school PE program. The goal will be to have this funded through private donations, and the MMARA board has already started talking with local funders about their interest in supporting this critical service for the community.
  • What impact is the Aquatic Center projected to have on the local economy?
    The Aquatic Center is estimated to generate nearly $1.4M of annual economic activity by attracting people to the community for competitions and events. This will be spending in hotels, restaurants, gas stations and other stores. It’s expected to generate 50-60 construction jobs in the first 15-18 months, will create 3 full-time jobs, and is estimated to employ 70-100 part-time employees.
  • Have you considered the use of salt in the Aquatic Center bodies of water?
    Our goal and what we have budgeted for is the most advanced technology to ensure the highest quality of water and air in the facility. Pools and pool codes still require the use of chlorine in the pool. The salt is there to serve as the source of the chlorine in the pool by breaking out the chlorine in the salt molecule through an electrical process the water passes through. The pool will still have 1.0 to 3.0 ppm (parts per million) of chlorine by code. The good news is that with the UV system and the better regenerative media filters (which the Aquatic Center pools will have), the pool can be kept at the low end of that chlorine concentration. With a good UV system and these filters, most users no longer feel any impact from “chlorine” and don’t have a problem, especially if this is combined with the good HVAC system we have proposed that eliminates the Tri-Chloromines from the natatorium air. Technical/Maintenance/Operations In Pool salt generation requires approximately 3,500 parts per million salt concentration. This is about 10% of the salt content of the ocean. This concentration creates quite a bit of corrosion in the mechanical systems, pool tank, pool deck, and accessories. This creates additional annual and long-term maintenance costs and added man-hours in maintaining the pool. It also requires some more expensive mechanical systems, such as recommending pool heaters with titanium heater coils instead of copper. Although the use of salt to generate the chlorine for the pool may lower chemical costs, those savings are more than exceeded by the added annual and long-term maintenance costs. In some communities, the local sewer district will not allow wastewater from salt pools (backwash, splash out, etc.) to have any salt content, so if a facility used a salt system, they would have to de-salinate the wastewater every time they backwash. Percent of Use in Commercial Pools While these salt generation systems are often used and popular in backyard pools or small health club pools, the use is almost non-existent in larger aquatic centers. Less than 3% of all commercial pools use a salt-generating system.
  • Can you provide more information on the estimated number of visitors per year?
    We estimate approximately 200,000 user visits/year. We estimate that approximately 15% of annual user visits will be from outside the authority footprint. This would include club/swim teams, lessons, recreation, classes, competitive swim events, and all users (membership, walk-in, etc.). Below is the breakdown of just event visitors to give you an idea of the impact competitive events will generate. The following breaks down event visitors only. These would not be unique users, just visits to the facility. 11,600 unique event visitors (unique by specific events) 23,000 actual daily visits during events. A unique event attendee would actually visit each day of the event, so this is the total visits. We have similar breakdowns for swim club training, high school swim team, swim lessons, senior programming, etc. We have based our visitor estimates on comparable facility/program structures and then rolled our estimates back. Additionally, the Aquatic Center will have stadium seating for 500 spectators and will have deck space for 400 participants.
  • Did you consider partnering with CMU to rehabilitate Rose Pool?
    The group of community members that began this work 8 years ago, unofficially called the Swim Friends of Mid-Michigan, started this effort in conversations with CMU. First, we discussed the possibility of updating Rose Pool and extending its life span, but after an extensive study, it was determined the cost and the fact it was "landlocked" in the middle of Rose - which meant it was not able to be fully overhauled - it became clear this would not be a sound option. We then pursued the idea of CMU building a new aquatic center that the community could partner with them on. At the time, for CMU to build a Division I competitive pool, the estimated cost was approximately $52M, which CMU opted not to pursue. Only after this work did we start to explore a true community aquatic center. It is important to note, however, that different CMU user groups have submitted letters of intent to lease lanes or parts of the pools for everything from clubs to classes/training.
  • How many parking spots will the Aquatic Center have?
    The current configuration based on the preliminary architect's work is between 200-215 spaces, with room for additional parking to expand to the north on our site/parcel if needed.
  • Has the MMARA researched grants as a potential source of funding?
    Through the development process and even as recently as last month, the MMARA has investigated potential funding sources for the Aquatic Center, including both private and public grant support. Unfortunately, most of the grant support we identified would not fund capital construction. It will support programmatic activities, and we plan to pursue many of these grants if/when the facility funds are approved by the taxpayers, which will allow us to broaden accessibility and programming. We have identified a few capital construction grants, but you must show the ability to fund a significant amount of the project. We plan to apply for funding if the millage passes. We will continue to pursue outside sources of capital funding, and anything we raise will be used to pay down the bond debt. The goal is to make the impact on taxpayers as minimal as possible.
  • Why can't I access the Aquatic Center for free?
    The MMARA board researched a number of different funding structures through the development process. The following outlines two of the primary models considered: Users Support Operations: Tax funding is used to pay for the construction of the facility while user fees pay for the operations of the facility. The tax impact on property owners is lower in this model because tax funding is only used to support the construction of the facility over the duration of the bond. Free Community Use: In this model, tax funding would be used to pay for both the construction and operations of the facility for its lifespan. The tax impact on property owners would be much greater and would continue indefinitely, until the facility is no longer in operation. This would, however, mean access to the facility would be free to community members. The MMARA board opted to pursue the user-supported operations model to keep the impact on taxpayers as minimal as possible while placing more of the financial responsibility on the people who actively use the facility. Under this model, taxpayers will only support the cost to construct the facility for the duration of the bond, which currently is projected to be 21 years and will not be able to exceed 25 years. The approximate impact on an owner of a house with a $150,000 cash value ($75,000 taxable value) will be $6/month.
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Living in this community for more than 30 years, I appreciate the many amenities we have. The one missing element is an indoor Aquatic Center. A place for recreational swimming, water therapy, and learn-to-swim opportunities is a vital addition to our town.”

Eileen Jennings, long-time resident

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