Manila Mayor Wayne Wagner and members of the city council recently toured the Paragould water park/swimming pool facility. They talked to the park manager gathering information.
"She was very helpful in our research," Mayor Wagner said. "Paragould has a wonderful facility."
Making an effort to look into all possibilities for a pool/water park facility is a topic of priority for Manila's mayor and councilmen.
Wagner said he is looking at the project as industrial development.
"The more we have to offer gives us a better chance to encourage families to move to Manila," Mayor Wagner said. "Young people today don't seem to mind driving to work. They want a good place to live and raise their children. They want good schools and activities.
Wagner said some of the questions asked when industry is looking to locate includes if the town is near a railroad, an interstate, or a river. Many assembly jobs have gone outside the country.
"We not only have to compete with other states, we have to compete with other countries for industry," Wagner said. "What we have to offer is our community. We have a good town and we need to work to make it even better. We have Big Lake Refuge, country club, school, airport, churches, and we need to expand on what we have."
There is an interest in a swimming pool/water park facility.
"Our last pool lasted 40 years," Wagner said. "We really took it for granted but it drew people from all over the area. We want to build a pool that will be around for years to come."
Citizens passed a one-fourth cent sales tax 11 years ago for a swimming pool. The swimming pool fund has $306,000 accumulated.
"Realistically, to get a pool in the near future, it will take passing a one cent sales tax to build a pool," Mayor Wagner said. "Passing a one cent tax and using bonds, we could start building the facility immediately. The tax would sunset (be removed) once the pool is paid off in 15 years or less. The present one-fourth cent sales tax would remain to pay for maintenance and operations."
Engineers and bond representatives will be at the July 18 city council meeting. The engineers will give cost estimates and the bond people will tell city officials what the city can pay for.
A pool will offer summer jobs for young people, encourage children to take Red Cross swimming lessons, offer a job for managers, and draw people from throughout the area boosting the traffic in Manila, Wagner said.
"Everyone who comes to Manila and spends money will be helping pay for the pool through the sales tax," Wagner said. "When we go to other towns and spend our money, we are helping those towns."
There has been no decision made on location.
"We are looking at all possibilities," Mayor Wagner said. "We want ideas from the public. If anyone has ideas I hope they feel free to call city hall and offer suggestions. We do want to build it with a Master Plan for future projects including additional ball parks, walking trails, bicycle trails, tennis courts, and more. We can work on grants each year to expand. If we want kids to stay home, we have to give them something to do. The pool/water park is a family atmosphere and that is what we want for our town. The Paragould pool/water park is rented every night through the summer after the pool closes at 6 p.m."