A SusanvilleStuff Feature
by Melissa Blosser, Assistant Editor
Is there a community pool in Susanville’s future? A concept for a project is being developed, and input is being sought by the Lassen County Board of Supervisors to implement a long-term plan which would include agencies from around the community.
The Board of Supervisors has earmarked $50,000 to prepare a preliminary design for a pool, and sent a letter to the City of Susanville, Susanville School District, the Chamber of Commerce, Lassen Community College, LMUD, Lassen Economic Development Committee and Lassen High School looking to gather information and form partnerships to help make the concept a reality.
In the letter Lassen County CAO Martin Nichols included an explanation of the idea behind funding construction of a pool and then asking tax payers to help maintain the operating costs.
The letter also asked for input regarding the process to bring the facility to fruition, the size and scope of the project and its location.
“Basically we are trying to see who wants to buy into just a broad concept at this time, and maybe inspire once again some momentum toward a solution,” said Nichols “We have a long way to go.”
The Board of Supervisors received response letters from the City of Susanville, Lassen College, the Susanville School District and others. While all of the letters lent their support to the county’s efforts, they also indicated that funding was very limited.
“Unfortunately we are not in the financial situation to be able to support monetarily, however, the district is willing to provide any support we can offer,” wrote Jason Waddell, Superintendent of the Susanville School District. “It is our hope to eventually have a fully functioning recreation center and we appreciate the steps being taken to build the facility and provide a constant funding source through a small tax measure to maintain the facilities.”
According to Nichols one of the problems is trying to narrow down the focus of the project and not allowing the pool project to branch out into other areas.
“It is important that we keep the project basic,” explains District 2 Supervisor Jim Chapman. “The more time spent scoping out the project, allows for more options to be added. Each option that is added, adds costs and increases the likelihood that the general public at large will not support the final project.”
Chapman said the big stumbling block that the project has encountered over the last 7 years has been how to pay for the maintenance and operation of the new pool after construction is completed. There will be user fees from those who regularly use the pool, but it will not be enough to guarantee the maintenance of a facility.
“What if we build the pool and then the voters don’t want to help operate? We need to work out a solution before we just go and build a pool,” said Nichols.
According to Chapman, voters in Susanville and surrounding areas will have to look at approving a modest $25-$30 household fee in the future, for the new facility.
“If the County had the money we would love to build the people a pool, there is no doubt, but we don’t,” said District 1 Supervisor Bob Pyle. “If the people want a pool they are going to have to help us pay for it.”
Time considerations and election cycles also play a large part in this process. Typically for a county to get voter input there has to be a general election on which to place a ballot initiative. Lassen County won’t have another general election for two years.
A 2/3 vote must also be realized for the initiative to pass, and according to Nichols this can be difficult.
“It takes time and we have to do the ground work,” said Nichols. “You have to hire the right firms to do the ground work and tailor your measure to what the voters are willing to vote for.”
The final location of the pool project is still undecided, and the board continues to collect information and look at several different options for the location and design.
“The county is ready to build a pool. We don’t have a lot of money, but we have some. What is important is that what we do, where we do it and how we do it meets the needs of the community for years to come,” said Chapman.
The board plans to discuss the responses they have received and provide direction to staff on September 25th at their weekly board meeting.