Cleveland school board may vote on swim center

Cleveland school board may vote on swim center

March 8th, 2011 by Randall Higgins in News

Narrow windows mark where the swimming pool is located inside the Teen Learning Center. The building, used as an armory by the Tennessee National Guard decades ago, is being considered as a potential Cleveland competition swimming site.

CLEVELAND, Tenn. - A proposed community swim center could be taken up Wednesday by the Cleveland Board of Education.

Cleveland High School swim coach Tim Davis said Monday that Lee University and a private physical therapy company have agreed to pay to use the center, providing a revenue stream.

His proposed sites are either the former Tennessee National Guard property downtown behind the Teen Learning Center or the vacant, former American Uniform property on Parker Street.

Swim competitions could be held here several times a year, he said, attracting 200 or more competitors, parents and others to each event. He said Lee has sent a letter of intent for swim classes and allowing students to buy swim passes for hours the center would not otherwise be used.

Davis said he wants school board approval to take the project to the Cleveland City Council before the fiscal year 2011-12 budget is decided. Otherwise the project will be delayed a year, he said.

"This would not take away money from any new school," Davis said.

The problem, board members said, is the city will want a firm commitment from the financial partners first and the partners will want a city commitment first.

Depending on the site, the proposal cost ranges from $9 million to $18 million at the American Uniform site.

"You can't base the cost of the project on the numbers I gave you," Davis said. "I did this to give a cost basis to the project."

"The bottom line is there has to be a debt service and somebody will be obligated to pay for it," said board member Dawn Robinson. "The question will be is the city willing to float the bonds. And they are going to ask who is going to be responsible for paying."

The board holds its budget meeting Wednesday before presenting it to the City Council on Monday. Members say they may vote on the proposal then.

Board members are leaving early today to visit the home communities of the two remaining candidates to be the next city schools director before their early morning Wednesday budget session begins.

Contact staff writer Randall Higgins at rhiggins@timesfreepress.com or 423-314-1029.