No Plans To Include A Pool At The Pocahontas Wellness Center
Marlinton, WV – Pocahontas County Parks and Recreation Director Lauren Bennett and Wellness Center Project Director Roger Trusler appeared at the County Commission meeting last week at the invitation of County Commissioner David Fleming. Fleming says he’s received calls from residents asking why the planned multi-million dollar wellness center doesn’t include a swimming pool.
Bennett says when they first started making plans for the center five years ago, a swimming pool was included. But after meeting with other groups and individuals about that possibility, it became apparent it just wasn’t going to work. One big drawback is cost, estimated at that time to be about 700.00 per person. Roger Trusler says the construction cost is not the biggest problem.
“The construction of it didn’t seem to be the problem, it’s the operation and maintenance, and the liability and all that” says Trusler. “It’s not like you can have volunteers [like] with basketball or other recreational activities. You gotta have certified lifeguards.”
Bennett also cites increased regulations for pools, and the difficulty of retaining qualified lifeguards. She says she feels that the Parks & Recreation dept just doesn’t have the budget or manpower to include a pool. She doesn’t rule out the possibility of adding an indoor pool in the future, but it’s not in the current plans for the wellness center.
Cindy Anderson wanted to know how the center would be used for drug and alcohol prevention. She says that was one of the primary reasons the late Senator Robert Byrd cited for getting funding for the project. Bennett says the drug and alcohol prevention aspect has been part of the plan all along.
“And the idea is that if we provide more recreational activities” she says “and prevention programs, and we’ve talked with Sheriff Jonese as far as some programs he’s hoping to develop that would again, encourage youth, kids, adults to get involved in positive activities and hopefully keep them away from the drug activities. That’s kind of where this facility was fitting into more prevention than anything else. It’s a multipurpose space that would be available for various programs.”
Anderson also had questions about access to the facilities and security. Bennett says because the center will also be used by Marlinton Elementary School students, some parts will be accessible only in the evening.
“The building is designed [so that] the gym will be locked off from the rest of the building during the school day so that the school kids are the ones who have access to the gym” she says. “And then after 3:30pm, Parks and Recreation will be managing the building which includes the gym, and the school will be locked off from the other side. It’s been designed so that we can just basically lock this set of doors up until 3:30, and then this set of doors after 3:30.”
Bennet says the building will also have security cameras and will be staffed while open. Construction may begin on the center later this year.