Citizen-led advisory committee asks city council for $5,000 to hire help to conduct a public survey

The Pool Advisory Committee asked the Prineville City Council to chip in $5,000 to hire a survey company to conduct a public survey about a new aquatic center, but the city council was hesitant to spend taxpayers' money without knowing more details.

"I'm very much in favor of the pool, as is everybody on the council," said Prineville Mayor Betty Roppe, adding, however, that the council members all believe spending more than $15,000 for a survey is steep.

But Wayne Looney, the chairman of the Pool Advisory Committee who presented to the council during a meeting Tuesday evening, said he sees the value in a professional survey.

"Before we go out and start talking to the community and various funding arms for a proposed pool, we want to be very confident about what our community is telling us they want and will support, so that's exactly where this process is right now," Looney said.

Crook County Parks and Recreation Executive Director Duane Garner and members of the Pool Advisory Committee recently selected a professional survey company.

Of the top three companies they looked into, they chose California-based Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz and Associates (FM3), who would charge anywhere from $17,000 to $20,500 to conduct a community-wide, comprehensive survey.

The Pool Advisory Committee also plans to ask the Crook County Court for $5,000 at an upcoming meeting, and they plan to ask the Parks and Rec to contribute the remaining funds necessary to complete the survey.

An early citizens group conducted informal surveys in the past, revealing that there was a substantial amount of people who want a pool, Garner said. However, those results were more casual rather than scientific.

"It has value and they did a good job of it. They asked people who were interested in a pool," Looney said of previous surveys. "This has to be a random sample — not just to the people who have indicated an interest in a pool."

According to Looney and Garner, the survey is a critical step in ensuring that the proposed pool is representative of the needs and desires of the community. It would also help ensure that unnecessary, costly features are not added.

If survey funding is granted, Pool Advisory Committee members would meet with FM3 to create a plan in hopes of conducting the survey within the next few months.

"We think we need to have a professional service who knows how to pose the questions so you don't predetermine the answers," Looney said. "We know what we need to find out, and they know how to pose the questions."

FM3 would conduct a random survey with citizens throughout the county — including Juniper Canyon and Powell Butte.

"Their opinions about this are very, very important as far as the funding method going forward," Looney said.

Although details have not been nailed down, the survey would most likely be conducted by phone and email.

The city council asked the Pool Advisory Committee to come back with more information before they would make a decision.

"We're trying to be really respectful of our taxpayers' money, and we want to make sure we're getting the deliverables that we would expect," Roppe said.

Garner said the comprehensive survey would reveal if it would be worth investing time, effort, energy and money into an aquatic center.

"That's what we're trying to find out," Garner said. "Is there a hope and a prayer for a pool?"

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