A FEASIBILITY study into whether the sports centre in Townfoot can be reopened and run as a community enterprise is out of the starting blocks.
Campbell Scott of the Langholm Initiative, who is managing the project, told community councillors he hoped to have the feasibility study completed in August.
He said the project was in the “embryonic stage” and the study would begin this month.
Among the factors contributing to the project’s success were community support and establishing a working group.
The intention at the moment was to set up an SCIO (Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation) to run the centre.
Mr Scott said that Ashleybank Investments, which owned the building, had indicated the centre would have a 25-year lease, much like the Studio.
The centre was closed at the end of February by Edinburgh Woollen Mill and a public meeting held to find out whether there was support to reopen it and the type of activities people would like to do.
Among the suggestions are a soft play area and climbing wall, along with the gym, the expansion of the swimming pool and the upgrading of the tennis courts.
Mr Scott said: “One key aspect of the study will be a much more detailed survey which will go into every household to determine what people would like to see and how much they’d be willing to pay.
“We’ve made it clear that if the project is not feasible, not economically viable, we’ll walk away.
“We won’t do that easily and we won’t give up at the first hurdle but, at the same time, if the community doesn’t want it or it’s not viable, we won’t continue. We should know before the end of the year.
“There are lots of good ideas about the redevelopment but we’ve not agreed anything yet.
“The project execution plan is a live document and will be updated as the project goes through its various stages.”
Mr Scott added that they had not sought funding yet. They would need money for consultants, although they intended to do a lot of work themselves.
It had been suggested they attend a funders’ forum which was due to meet at the end of May.
John Galloway, chairman, said: “I think it’s a worthwhile project and I can’t imagine that the community would not want to retain the centre.
“What you’ve prepared so far shows a great deal of commitment to the project and I thank you for that.
“I hope it’s successful and that we’ll see movement in the right direction.”
Councillor Ronnie Tait, Annandale East and Eskdale, asked whether they intended to make any structural changes with regard to the swimming pool, tennis courts or squash courts.
Mr Scott said it had not been discussed yet. The squash courts were not used but that didn’t mean they couldn’t be rejuvenated or one converted into some other use.
He thought that if the pool was made larger and staffed, it would attract more clientele. Nowhere else in the town had a pool or tennis courts so they were an attraction.
He added: “We want to complement and integrate with other places in town, like the Eskdale sports centre. We also want to have more flexible subscriptions, including pay at the door for visitors to the town.”
The triangular field next to the centre might also be available to use.