Most Leesburg residents surveyed want the town to build an outdoor aquatics center at Ida Lee Park with the $4.25 million bequeathed by a local philanthropist.
The proposed center could include water slides, spray areas, a zero-depth entrance allowing wheelchair and walk-in access, and picnic areas, according to the town's parks and recreation department.
Ideas for spending the bequest were proposed early this year, and residents immediately embraced the idea of an aquatics center. According to a recent survey of about 600 residents by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, 56 percent strongly support the proposal, and 26 percent are somewhat supportive.
The 82 percent total easily surpassed the level of approval for the other options under consideration: expanding the recreation center to include a new child-care facility and locker rooms, expanding the park by acquiring 240 acres along Route 15 and building an indoor tennis facility.
In every demographic group, an aquatics center came out on top. And, according to a separate survey, feasibility study, of community interest and willingness to pay for a pool's operating costs, most residents within 12 miles of Leesburg also prefer an aquatics center over the other options.
Such a center would fit Ida Lee Park's character, said Kaj Dentler, the town's director of parks and recreation. "There wouldn't be pirates and palm trees," he said.
The study comes more than a year after Leesburg resident Valeria Harris Symington -- known as A.V., for Auntie Val -- bequeathed $4.25 million to the park for recreational or educational purposes. The bequest was part of Symington's $17 million estate, which she willed to local organizations. Symington died in 2003 at age 87.
The results of the survey and the feasibility study will be presented at 9 a.m. Saturday at a public input session held by the parks department, the second session on how the Symington bequest should be used. The agency's advisory committee will make a recommendation to the Town Council before the end of the year.
Saturday's session will be held on the lower level of the Ida Lee Park Recreation Center, 60 Ida Lee Dr. NW, Leesburg.
For more information, call 703-777-1262 or visit www.idalee.org/parks/Symington.