Faced with a potential tax hike and estimated costs in the millions for a community pool, the Marathon City Council is going down a road it’s gone down before.
At Tuesday’s council meeting, council members were told a community pool in the city would cost roughly $6.5 million combined to buy land and construct a pool.
There were two land options presented, neither of which were necessarily favored due to location and access. One is at mile marker 60 oceanside and the other near mile marker 53 oceanside, where there are ingress and egress issues cited by the city in the past. They are listed for sale at $3.5 million and $3.3 million, respectively.
Another option involves the use of the former Marathon Manor property adjacent to Marathon High School, 350 Sombrero Beach Road. The Monroe County School District bought the manor site 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.
A month ago the council reached out to the School Board board asking it to “develop a pool” on the property. The School Board did not respond formally, and it is in the midst of design plans for an athletic complex behind the school and considering using the manor property for extra parking and other things.
“I think we need to talk one more time with our School Board and implore them to reconsider,” said Mayor Dan Zieg.
“It is a need in this community,” said Councilman John Bartus. “Let’s ask the School Board for the land. I believe there is a whole lot of community will here.”
Councilwoman Michelle Coldiron pointed out that only 28 percent of registered voters took a stance during a nonbinding pool referendum last August. Of 1,726 voters, 865 supported the city investing in a pool, just four more than those who voted against it.
“If Stanley Switlik [Elementary School] students and Marathon High School students were allowed to vote I guarantee it would have been different, because a lot of those kids don’t have pools,” said Marathon resident Brandi Card, one of many community members who spoke in favor of the pool.
No one spoke against it.
“The numbers are going to say what they’re going to say and if we get the door slammed on us, then it’s time for us to make a decision,” Councilman Mark Senmartin said of going to the School Board again.
Katie Atkins: 305-440-3219