SEA ISLE CITY - At Sea Isle City Council's Nov. 12 meeting, Council President J. B. Feeley talked about the results of two recent surveys related to whether Sea Isle City should include a pool in the renovation of the municipality's former school building, located at 4501 Park Rd.
Leading up to the surveys, city administration held several town hall meetings designed to inform residents about design options and associated costs. At council meetings over the last few months, public comments seemed to be evenly divided between those who believed that the cost of including the pool and related yearly upkeep and staffing expenses was worth it, versus those who did not deem such expenses justified.
Feeley noted that the city contracted with a consultant to create an online survey to gauge sentiments among property owners. During the course of the two-week survey, 2,552 respondents submitted their opinions, including 33 property owners who submitted surveys through hard copies, since they did not have internet access.
Among those taking the survey, 79.3% said they use their Sea Isle properties seasonally or rent out their properties. Those indicating they are year-round residents of Sea Isle totaled 20.7%.
“The results of the online survey were very clear," explained Feeley. "Those voting no, they did not want a pool built, were 76.2% of the total, and those supporting, including pool construction, totaled 23.8%.”
The city also placed a non-binding referendum on the Nov. 5 general election ballot. Official results compiled by the Cape May County Clerk's Office indicated that 497 voters said “no” to a swimming pool, and 398 voters said “yes.”
Business Administrator George Savastano noted that the next steps would be to hold meetings to gain as much resident insight as possible into the ultimate design of the renovation of the former school building and determine what might be included as priorities now that the pool is no longer an option.
During public comment, a resident stated that, "Council did not do enough to thoroughly explain, both on the survey and for the referendum, what the potential of revenue-generating versus costs could have been. I live in a township in Pennsylvania where the situation as to whether to build a pool was raised, and officials did a very good job in showing how the pool could offset expenses by using it for a number of purposes."
During public comments at past council meetings, the subject of possible revenue-generating opportunities from constructing a pool were aired. Some opined that the pool would be an attraction for senior centers, general physical therapy, and hospital rehabilitation patients.
Others disagreed, saying that in their combined experience, these options were not practical given the numerous provisions required by regulations that would need to be met, such as different water temperatures, special accessibility measures, and overall enhanced and more expensive safety and security features.
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