DRIGGS, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK/KXPI) - "Health, wellness, safety and recreation in Teton Valley."
This is the motto for the Teton Aquatic Center in Driggs that one group of people are working to start.
A survey conducted by the group found one-third of households in Driggs have a non-swimmer.
Kelly Sadauckas is the chair of the board of Teton Valley Aquatics. Her day job is a physical therapist and she says her clients who have just had surgery could really benefit from having access to a therapy pool. However, she says that is just a minority of the Driggs population. As far as the population as a whole, she says it is about the kids.
"There's a majority of children in our valley that aren't having any exposure to water and aren't able to learn to swim and I think that we owe it to the children and to the young families to provide year-round opportunity," Sadauckas said.
The only gym available for kids in Driggs is the Teton Rock Gym and the Teton Indoor Sports Academy. The two areas are divided by just a piece of plastic.
Other aquatic centers like Green Canyon Hot Springs and the Jackson County Recreation Center are about a half an hour away from residents.
Sadauckas said this facility would be cheaper than other aquatics centers and a lot closer.
"The fact there are only three pool opportunities, accessible within the valley, all three are private enterprises at this time. So, there's a financial barrier of participation," Sadauckas said.
According to the WOrld Health Organization, drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury in kids ages 1 to 14 years, in the U.S.
Those against the aquatic center are worried about taxes.
Kimmy Neering is for the aquatic center. She believes everyone in the valley area needs to know how to swim.
"We live in an area where in the summertime, there's a lot of water activities. Not only that, I feel like having an aquatic center during the winter when the weather gets a bit chilly up here, so we need to have some kind of recreation that is accessible to everybody," Neerings said.
Mayor Hyrum Johnson said this is a project he has been pushing for since he came into office, in 2014. He believes swimming is a life skill and kids need to embrace it.
"I have visited a few classrooms in the middle school here recently and the kids are saying, 'we want to work as life guards', 'we want to learn to swim, 'we want to be able to have this facility'," Mayor Hyrum said.
The group proposed the idea to the school district in January 2017.
If everything goes as planned, the Teton Aquatic Center would open in the summer of 2021.
This fall, the group plans to campaign and fundraise for design costs.
Those interested in voicing their opinions on the Teton Valley Aquatics Center can attend the meetings taking place next month.
Sadauckas said the Teton Valley Aquatics recently conducted a community survey, with over 1000 community members completed. Results of that survey will be presented to the community at large at 3 different community meetings in April:
April 19th at the Alta, WY Library at 6:30pm;
April 20th at the Driggs, ID library at 6:30pm;
and April 21st at the Victor Library at 5pm
Check the Teton Aquatics Center website here.