BLANCHESTER — “Our children need a place to go.”
That’s what Joyce Kelly, one of the board members of the Blanchester Pool and Recreation Center project, told Clinton County Commissioners Wednesday.
During the commissioners’ meeting, pool project board members — Committee Chair Erin Whitaker, Chair-Elect Jim West, Treasurer Doug Naylor, and board members Darrell Kingsland and Joyce Keller — discussed the proposed center, what it would hopefully become, and the next steps.
The project began in 2015 with Whitaker kicking it off in an effort to save and to re-open the former Blanchester Swim Club.
So far the group has established its board consisting of Blanchester and Clinton County residents, also including Lisa Beach, Allen Dohan and Kari Dixon.
The non-profit has finalized Phase 1 with facility design and receiving initial cost estimates. If the project is done all at once it would cost $2 million. With a four-phase plan, the first phase would be $1 million.
The group has also contracted with Just Write Solutions, a professional grant writing and non-profit consulting firm, as well as architect Tom Redlin for initial drawings.
Whitaker and West made a PowerPoint presentation at the Blanchester Area Chamber of Commerce’s 62nd annual meeting on Nov. 14.
They said their mission is to create and encourage healthy lifestyles by “connecting the community and individuals to safe, fun, and educational health oriented programs and activities using diverse facilities and amenities.” The vision is to foster the needs of citizens for recreational pursuits “in a leisure environment” and to improve quality of life.
The site would include an aquatics facility, a multi-purpose building, multi-purpose sports courts, and an amphitheater and shelter. It would also be a handicap-accessible space and a year-round open space for all ages.
County Commissioner Kerry Steed asked the group what its biggest hurdle is, and Naylor said it’s raising the funds to build it.
“With the plan we have to run it, it may not be sustainable just from people paying to use it,” said Naylor. “But I think through advertisement and donations, it would be.”
West said the meeting with commissioners was very encouraging, with all three giving advice and being supportive of the project.
Securing capital funds is the next step, according to West, with it being a combination of locally and privately sourced money and grant money.
“We’ve really seen a lot of excitement and we want to keep it going,” West said. “We just don’t have anything like it. All the facilities we use to have where we’d use to play basketball or go swim are gone.”
Kingsland added there’s a need for something like it for people to enjoy and draw in others. Kelly advised it wouldn’t just be for Blanchester.
“If you look at other small places like Clarksville and Lynchburg, they don’t have anything either. This is a place that they could go to. It’s a close enough place for it to be a pool for them as well. It’s not just for Blanchester. It’s for Clinton County and Highland County, maybe even Brown County,” said Kelly.
Reach John Hamilton at 937-382-2574