Officials will begin to take a serious look this year at how to develop a Pacific recreation center that will include a new swimming pool complex.

Officials approved a $5,000 line item in the annual budget that goes into effect July 1, 2013, to study how to proceed on the project.

The mayor assigned Walter Arnette, acting president of the board of aldermen, to spearhead a preliminary campaign to define the project.

Arnette said he would like to see a citizens committee formed to study and promote the center.

“Funding is a big thing,” he said. “We’re a small community, so we have to look at what we can afford to build.”

Arnette said he believes the city has a good location for a combined recreation center and new pool, on the site of the existing pool, but is open to new ideas.

“We have a good spot, but I’m always for what the citizens want,” he said. “Once we have a committee of citizens we’re going to listen to what they think and what they want.”

Arnette, who led the drive to expand city hall, said he’s willing to be part of an effort to build a recreation center with a swimming pool in order to keep young families in the community.

“A recreation center would be an asset to keep young people (here) after they finish college and are ready to raise families,” he said. “Too many of our young people move away after college.”

Mayor Herb Adams said a recreation center would be a step above a community center, which has been discussed for several years.

More importantly, Adams said, the city needs to do something about the old swimming pool.

“It was a great idea when Mayor Diquie Omer built it, but it’s aged now,” he said. “We need to not keep patching it, but to consider a recreation center.

“A project that size will take time and money,” he added. “The first step is in the next budget where I’m asking for the $5,000 study to start the process.”

Adams said the staff also will look at what neighboring cities have done.

“Other cities have built community centers. We’re proposing something different,” he said. “A recreation center is a step above a community center. We need to think high.”

Adams said he plans to think about the project over the summer and will bring to the board of aldermen a list of citizens’ names that would make up a study committee.

“I’ll probably be ready to establish a committee in the fall,” he said.

The mayor also said the city needs a starting point before any serious planning is done, which is why he will budget $5,000 to study the concept.

“A recreation center would be bigger than a community center,” Adams said. “It would serve more of our citizens and bring people from outlying areas into the city.”