Look for the goggles at the next Buncombe commissioners meeting: A group called “Save Zuegner, Save Our Swim Teams” is trying to get swimmers, coaches and likeminded people to come to the Feb. 3 meeting and speak about the Zuegner Center, which will shut down forever at the end of the swim season this year.
The first post on the group’s Facebook page appears to be Jan. 23, two days after County Manager Wanda Greene announced the pool’s closure at the day-long Commissioners meeting. Greene told commissioners that the 50-year-old pool was “past its end-of-life,” and Parks and Recreation Director Fran Thigpen said that she couldn’t recommend putting any more money into the pool, even for minor maintenance.
The pool, the only publicly owned indoor facility in the county, has been on the radar for a while. There was a codicil for $6.9 million to fund a new center in the budget for Fiscal Year 2014, but it vanished suddenly following the dissolution of the county’s short-lived Cultural Resources Authority.
Even then, General Services Director Greg Israel told Commissioners that though the pool was open for 2014, everyone needed to “hold their breath.”
The “Save the Zuegner Center’s” Feb. 2 post urges people to “wear goggles [to the meeting] to show your support!”
“We will be speaking during the public-comment section [near the beginning of the meeting],” it says. “We currently have two high school coaches, a YMCA coach, a parent, high-school swimmers, year-round swimmers, a physician, and a Girl Scout slated to speak. Your voice (or even just your presence) is also important!”
On Jan. 21, the Commissioners kicked around ideas to replace the swim center; they directed staff to look into options to either cover an existing pool or partner with another organization to share a facility’s pool.
In other business
- The Land Conservation Advisory Board (LCAD) will make its annual report to commissioners and will request funding for a new conservation easement in Sandy Mush, worth 291 acres. The new acreage is adjacent to a 594-acre easement and is worth $700,000. The landowners are donating $395,000, and private donations are covering the rest. The LCAD is requesting $35,000 from commissioners just to cover the transaction costs. According to their report, the LCAB has protected over 73,000 acres as of the end of 2014.
- Commissioners will consider a rezoning request by the company Lifeway Christian Resources to change two parcels from R-1 Residential to a Conference Center/Resort District. The land is currently within the area surrounding the Ridgecrest Conference Center.
- Commissioners will also consider appointments to the Adult Home Care Community Advisory Committee (two reappointments, three vacancies), the Historic Resources Commission (one vacancy). Commissioners also will be considering appointments to the county Planning Board, which has representatives from the six districts, the city of Asheville, and an at-large member.