The $2.2 million project is on schedule, said Monticello City Manager Myron Lee. Lee expressed amazement that the project has moved forward so quickly.
“It generally takes four years from the time a project begins to seek funding to the groundbreaking,” said Lee. “Construction began on this project just a little over a year after we began looking for funds.”
The previous Monticello Swimming Pool was built in the 1950s with a community-wide fund raising effort. A similar effort helped drive the funding of the new project.
This pool is being built a penny at a time through a local effort driven by school students. Kara Boyd, a teacher at Monticello High School, initiated a project to raise a million pennies in her math classes. When the effort was tied to helping fund the new pool, there was community-wide excitement.
“Many people have been involved in this project, including recreation director Eddie Allred and the recreation committee,” said Lee. “There are also a group of ‘swimming moms’, led by Adriann Goodwine, who have been a great help.”
The penny effort has attracted approximately 800,000 pennies to date or $8,000 of the $10,000 goal. The project has also attracted the attention of other funding agencies.
“The Community Impact Board and Eccles Foundation were excited about the million penny project,” said Lee. They thought that if kids were saving their pennies for this project, they could also help.
San Juan County has pledged to contribute $500,000 for the project. In addition, the Eccles Foundation provided a $100,000 grant. Local groups, such as the Lions Club and Baseball Parents Association, have also pledged to contribute to the project.
The Community Impact Board extended an $825,426 grant and offered a $1.3 million loan. The zero percent loan will be paid over 30 years with an annual $45,000 payment.
The project is funded primarily by a sales tax approved by Monticello voters in 2008. The sales tax is expected to generate approximately $20,000 a year in revenue. While revenues will vary from year to year, city officials are hopeful that revenues will increase as the city grows.
The city will put the remaining grant funds and contributions in an interest-bearing account. It will be used to pay the remainder of the $45,000 loan payment.
The aging facility closed in 2008 after an expensive piece of equipment was damaged. City leaders moved ahead with the demolition of the old building this summer, with the hope that a new building would take its place in the following year.
The new facility will cover roughly 100,000 square feet, with a three lane lap pool and “zero-entry” wading pool that gently drops to 2 feet deep. The pool includes space for a shallow-depth volleyball and basketball area and a diving area that is 12 feet deep.
The pool will open during the warm weather months. While Lee reports that maintenance and operating costs will be similar to the previous pool, he hopes that the new facility will generate considerably more revenue than the previous pool. Use of the older facility dropped as it aged.
In recent years, the $28,000 in annual costs were offset by roughly $15,000 in revenues, leaving an annual subsidy of approximately $13,000.
Lee said the financing is tight on the project. “The city took a risk when they tore down the old pool before the new project was finalized,” said Lee. “But things seem to have worked out.”