Vernon residents say they want a city pool and now it looks like they are going to get one. Vernon City Commissioners are looking for the best way to pay for a city aquatic center. The town hasn't had its own swimming pool for years, but now it's only a matter of figuring out how to pay for what City Manager Mitch Grant calls a 'glorified swimming pool.'
The process started a couple years ago when the City Commission asked various Vernon groups what the town needed most at that time. Jennifer Castleberry represented the school district at that meeting, and says it was clear to everyone that building a city pool was a top priority.
"That's something that's missing here in Vernon, and that people do leave Vernon to go other places for that recreation, and it would be great if it could stay here," Castleberry said.
The Mayor Pro-Tem and six other officials make up the Swimming Pool Committee, a group that's been around for a while but is finally making headway after Tuesday night's City Commissioners meeting.
"We've been putting a plan together -- pool layout, location, and it's been a long process," Brownlow said.
Orbison Park will be home to the new pool next year. One woman who lives close to the park says some people in the immediate area aren't too keen on the idea, but other Vernon residents say they're excited.
"We used to have one like a long time ago when I was a kid, but it kinda got run down. We need another one 'cause we need a place for people to go," said Stacey Parker.
"I think that would be pretty nice because we always have to go to Iowa Park or Chillicothe to swim, and that would be fun because then we wouldn't have to drive," said 9-year-old Truman Castleberry.
City Commissioners are waiting to hear if Vernon will qualify for a $500,000 grant from the Parks and Wildlife Department. But with or without those funds, Brownlow says the city will have a pool.
"We'll come up with financing some way to get this done, so hopefully we'll have a pool in the ground and operational by June of next year," he said.
"That's a thing we can do outside that's not blazing hot doing," Truman said.
Grant says Vernon has already gotten several private donations for the project -- each water bill in town gives residents a chance to contribute if they wish. He hopes more large donations will be on the way.
The aquatic center will likely have slides and other amenities. Right now, officials are working with engineers on the exact layout. The price tag on the project will be about $1.5 million.