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Swimming pool length confirmed ‘OK’

By David Rogers. BOONE, N.C. — At least part of what was being raised as a county commissioner campaign controversy turned out to be a non-issue on Oct. 24 when representatives of High Country Press and High Country Sports independently measured the length of the Watauga Community Recreation Center’s swimming pool.

It had been widely asserted that the pool was 2.5 to 2.75 inches longer than the advertised 25 yards, so beyond the acceptable tolerance for sanctioned events. After Sam Garrett, owner of High Country Press and a Rec Center member measured the pool under the watchful eye of Rec Center Aquatics Director Kyle Disney and David Rogers, owner and publisher of High Country Sports, they determined that it was 25 yards and one-half inch in length.

“We measured from the intersection of the black tees on the pool walls, under the water’s surface, on both ends,” said Garrett, “and I suspect that the extra half-inch is due to a little bit of slack in the measuring tape over that 75 feet distance as it ran through the water. So the length of the pool appears to be spot on. Those black tees are where competitive swimmers make their turns.

Sam Garrett, owner of High Country Press, prepares to measure the swimming pool at the Watauga Community Recreation Center in Boone. Photo by David Rogers

“When someone comes to us with these sorts of claims,” Garrett added, “especially trying to make it an election issue, we cannot take their word for it. We need to independently very those claims. If our measurements had come out with that same 2.5 to 2.75 discrepancy, too, then we would have hired a contractor to certify the pool’s actual length.”

While the pool’s length is now a non-issue, there remains a question of what to do about the tennis courts on the north side of the Rec Center, outside. Apparently, the facility designers and contractors did not allow for enough space between the courts, nor in back of the service lines or between the side fences and the courts.

The tennis court issue was brought before the currently sitting board of commissioners on Oct. 18, by local resident Cary Davenport during the public comment portion of the meeting.

Davenport and his wife, Bridget, are now retired in the High Country, but report that they have previously owned and managed large health clubs and recreation centers in the Chicago area.  Davenport said that he had played competitive tennis for more than 50 years and the Rec Center courts are not safe. They represent a liability to the County, he said.

“The way these courts are now,” Davenport explained to High Country Sports after the commissioners meeting, “you can’t have sanctioned tennis events because the venue is not safe. That is troubling because part of how this facility was sold to taxpayers is that it would be an economic driver for area businesses, as well as generate sales and occupancy tax revenue through the hosting of tennis tournaments and other competitions, including swimming and basketball. Frankly, given the measurement issues in the tennis courts, every playing area in the center should be measured and certified for its accuracy.”

High Country Sports will have a future report on the tennis court issue after speaking with county officials and other local business interests.

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