The process of potentially building an aquatic center in Isabella County has reached the second step. A multi-governmental committee comprised of members from the City of Mt. Pleasant, Union Township, and the Mt. Pleasant School District – each of which is represented by two members on the committee – is exploring the feasibility of creating a recreational authority that would be responsible for governing the potential aquatic center.
Mark Stuhldreher, Union Township manager and chair of the committee, says, “What we’re determining is, ‘Is a recreational authority the best mechanism to advance the creation of a community aquatic center?’”
The committee had its first meeting in November and meets monthly. The members of the committee are:
- Mark Stuhldreher, Chair of the committee representing Union Township
- Ben Gunning, representing Union Township
- Nancy Ridley, representing the City of Mt. Pleasant
- William Joseph, representing the City of Mt. Pleasant
- Jennifer Verleger, representing the Mt. Pleasant School District
- Sheila Murphy, representing the Mt. Pleasant School District
A multi-governmental committee is determining whether a recreational authority is the best mechanism to advance the creation of a community aquatic center.
“What we’ve set for our goal is to have a recommendation to each of the entities by the end of June at the latest,” says Mt. Pleasant City Manager Nancy Ridley, who is also a member of the committee.
As to how this recreational authority would function, Stuhldreher compares it to a board of directors.
“The members of this recreational authority would be responsible for the governance, for the funding, the management, and things like that,” he explains. “There would need to be somebody that I imagine the recreational authority would hire to manage the day-to-day operations.”
“So, this committee is just talking about the creation of the authority. If the authority is created, I’m imagining there would be a lot of work by the authority before the aquatic center is stood up."
There are still many steps to take in the process of potentially building an aquatic center in the community, though. Stuhldreher says the first step was the work put in by Swim Friends of Mid-Michigan, a community volunteer group that has been highly involved in this planning process, and the feasibility study that was conducted by a consultant the group hired. The consultant revealed there is interest in the community for an aquatic center and explored how it could be financially feasible.
In the feasibility study contracted by Swim Friends of Mid-Michigan, which was completed in 2018, the consultant recommended that the type of facility that would be sustainable includes two indoor pools: a stretch 25-yard pool (25 yards by 116 feet) and a warm-water teaching pool. There would also be changing rooms or locker rooms of some type, restrooms, office space, concessions, and a multi-function classroom space.
However, Ridley says no official architectural renderings have been created at this time.
Step two is this committee and its efforts to determine the feasibility of creating a recreational authority to oversee the governance of the potential aquatic center.
“Step three would be the actual creation of the authority, which if it were to occur would be done via a vote by the governing bodies of the entities that the authority would be made up of,” Stuhldreher explains.
While the committee currently consists of members from three governmental entities, Stuhldreher says the committee is also asking itself if there are other governmental entities they feel should be included.
“Let’s imagine the vote was positive - an authority was created. Step four would be the authority would have to do a lot of work to make the final determination as to whether or not this aquatic center actually gets built and how it’s managed. The authority would have to address funding,” says Stuhldreher. “So, this committee is just talking about the creation of the authority. If the authority is created, I’m imagining there would be a lot of work by the authority before the aquatic center is stood up. And it’s possible that – even if the authority is created – if they couldn’t find a way to finance it, that the aquatic center wouldn’t be built at which time the authority would likely disband.”
With so many decisions ahead of the committee and a variety of unknowns in the future, Ridley says it’s still “premature at this point to talk numbers” regarding what building the aquatic center would cost.
Read more about why the addition of an aquatic center being discussed, and why now; if an aquatic center is sustainable in Isabella County; and, what an aquatic center would do for the community.