Over the last few years a dedicated group of Paducah citizens have worked with the City to bring an Aquatic Center and all the benefits it provides to the citizens of Paducah. Since October I have conducted hundreds of one on one and small group meetings to listen to the thoughts of our citizens. I have heard many real concerns about an Aquatics Center project that has grown in scope from an initial indoor pool to a $20M+ Community Wellness Center. It has taken time, but our citizens are now fully aware of the scope and financing requirements that include a tax increase.
Our community is divided over this project and I feel it is time to STEP BACK AND PAUSE. I do not believe that we should abandon the project altogether, but I do believe we should re-evaluate the process, project, timeline, and financing.
In short, it is time to PAUSE and look at resizing the Wellness Center, financing it more conservatively, and reprioritizing where it fits into the city’s priorities.
I call on our city leaders to:
- Reevaluate the Aquatics Center project and rebalance it with both private and public funds.
- Rethink the financing approach and match the outlay of bond payments with financial commitments from the private sector before construction begins.
- While at the same time Reprioritizing critical infrastructure needs such as storm water while exploring the reallocation of bond proceeds
There are ongoing efforts to raise private funding for this project and I believe that is the best route to take. I am a businessman and from a business perspective, enough multiple funding sources should be lined up prior to any plans for groundbreaking. Why are we rushing to break ground without a thorough knowledge of where the funding will come from, other than the city taxpayer? We are missing the most necessary ingredient for success, a thoughtful plan for financing. Sound business practice dictates that we pause the rush to build and do the difficult and time-consuming work which includes raising money to help fund the construction and develop an endowment to offset the future cost of operating the facility.
We should all be very thankful that there are citizens like those passionate within the Friends of the Park organization who have worked to get an Aquatic Center built and bring progress to our quality of life. If elected Mayor, I will focus on all of us working together to accomplish these goals including convening a coalition within the community to ensure that a project of this nature has the right elements of a private-public partnership. Additionally, I will work closely with the County to ensure that the project is properly prioritized with our community’s need for outdoor athletic fields such as soccer and baseball.
We need to realize that our ability to grow and succeed as a community depends on our willingness to come together as One Paducah and prioritize our needs first, while ensuring that we continue to plan and build to improve our overall quality of life.
Again, we must:
Reevaluate the Aquatics Center project and the process surrounding it
Rescale the project to match the financial commitments from all the interested entities
Rethink the financing approach ensuring the proper use of private funds
While all along,
Reprioritizing our critical infrastructure needs such as storm water and explore reallocating bond proceeds to address those needs
While I believe our City leaders have acted with the best intentions, I call on them to PAUSE and listen to the community in order to ensure we are able to accomplish our goals in a financially sustainable and responsible way.