The possibility of a community pool in Marathon hasn’t been discussed by the City Council months, but the topic rose to the surface again at the board’s Tuesday night meeting.
Councilman John Bartus said he wants City Manager Chuck Lindsey to draft a letter to the Monroe County School District to begin a dialogue about the former Marathon Manor nursing home property adjacent to Marathon High School, 350 Sombrero Beach Road. The district bought the property for $7.4 million 12 years ago with the possibility of building affordable housing on it. Empty since, it has been widely cast as the likely spot for a community swimming pool if one is built.
“We’ve never asked the School Board for their opinion on us using that property — not once,” Bartus said Tuesday. “We need to start this dialogue or we will lose that property as an option and that makes a pool for Marathon far more problematic.”
Bartus was referring to design plans underway for an athletic complex behind the school. A portion of nursing home property could be used in a $3.5 million project for athletic fields and increased parking.
The City Council has not taken a vote on whether a municipal pool should be built.
“Let’s just have our city write a letter to the School Board and say ‘Look, we want you to consider a pool on this property,’ but they can keep the property,” said Councilwoman Michelle Coldiron.
Mayor Dan Zieg said he wants to suggest to the board the city would be interested in helping with the expenses of a pool by way of an annual donation.
“I think we are interested in trying to work with the School Board toward a pool,” he said.
A nonbinding referendum last August found city voters were pretty much split on if the city should get into the business of operating a pool. Of 1,726 voters, 865 filled in the bubble next to “yes,” just four more than those who voted against it.
Since then, city staff has been gathering data about other pools in the Keys and is set to float the idea in a presentation at next month’s meeting.
Lindsey said city staff has “done a good assessment” and the Marathon Manor site would be the “the most feasible,” but would not release more information until the presentation at the July 11 meeting.
Katie Atkins: 305-440-3219