School District still not embracing pool partnership with Marathon

After sending two letters to the Monroe County School District pushing for a community pool on district-owned property, the Marathon City Council got a letter back last week. And it appears the district remains generally opposed to being part of a pool plan.

Design plans are underway for an athletic complex behind Marathon High School, 350 Sombrero Beach Road. A portion of the adjacent Marathon Manor nursing home property could be used in a $3.5 million project for athletic fields and increased parking.

The gist of the letter is that it’s time to develop the land. 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.

The city wants the district to give up the land so a pool can be built there.

In the letter, addressed to Marathon City Manager Chuck Lindsey, Superintendent Mark Porter and Scndsey, Superintendent Mark Porter and School Board Chairman John Dick wrote, “It is increasingly clear that not all desired elements (e.g. parking, track, field improvements, community pool, etc.) are going to fit in the plan.”

At the last School Board meeting, members discussed potential plans for the athletic facility.

“The surprise to me in looking at some of those options is none of them included an imprint for the space a pool would take up, but what we did see was a significant portion of the land taken up with water retention ponds,” said board member Andy Griffiths. “Right now I think the No. 1 emphasis is adding parking, athletic fields and possibly a track.”

Lindsey said the the city will continue to work on the feasibility of a pool on the manor property.

“We need to exhaust all potential public land to be fiscally responsible. Once we identify public lands are not available, then we’ll proceed with the next step,” he said.

Councilman John Bartus said he still hopes a partnership can happen.

“The School District hasn’t said yes and they haven’t said no. I’m still holding out hope we can come to some sort of agreement on a pool site,” he said.

Katie Atkins: 305-440-3219