Oceanside CA— The City of Oceanside held an informational meeting last night at the El Corazon Senior Center concerning the proposed Aquatics Center to be located at the El Corazon site. Approximately fifty people attended the meeting including Oceanside City Council members, Jack Feller, Jerry Kern and a representative from Deputy Mayor Sanchez’s office along with City Manager, Steve Jepsen.
The meeting was led by former city manager and current city consultant, Peter Weiss with consultants Rommel Olaes from RNT Architects and Justin Caron with Aquatic Design Group.
The concept for the new aquatics center grew from the City Council looking at ways to renovate the aging municipal pools at the Brooks Street Swim Center and Marshall Street Swim Center. The two swim centers don’t meet current standards and in October, the city council gave unanimous approval to move ahead on the process of a new aquatic center instead of trying to upgrade current facilities.
The City contracted with RNT Architects, the people who designed El Corazon Senior Center and the Aquatic Design Group, the company which designed the new Alga Norte Aquatics Center in Carlsbad.
The El Corazon Aquatic Center, as it is currently proposed, would cost the city approximately 12 million dollars.
The proposed center, in the early planning stages, includes a 56 meter by 25 yard pool which will meet standards for swimming competitions, water polo and possibly diving competitions but will have a depth where it can be used as a general purpose pool too. A 82′ x 75′ “Instructional Pool” which has a warmer water temperature than the 56 meter pool and “Splash Pool” which is more of a splash pad with standing water to play in. The splash pool would not require a lifeguard. The layout is very similar to the Alga Norte Aquatics Center in Carlsbad.
The pools are surrounded by a deck with a turf, shaded area at the south end of the complex. Up to date locker rooms and an area for concessions, classrooms and special events will be on the north-east side of the pool area.
Some concerns were raised about the wisdom of building an aquatics complex during a drought. Justin Caron told people at the meeting that an aquatic facility uses, roughly, 36% less water than a public park and 82% less water than single family homes on a similar size site. Council-member Jerry Kern said the people in the City of Oceanside use about the amount of water in one day, 30,000,000 gallons, as what the pool would use in a year.
It would be at least three years before the center could open. “You can’t just award a contract, dig a hole and start pouring concrete” said Peter Weiss. Mr. Weiss explained there are environmental studies that need to be done, plans need to go to the planning commission. “that process alone can take 8-10 months.” If and when funding is identified, it will take about two years to complete the planning and study process and 9 months to build the center.
“There has been no funding identified, to date, for the aquatic center”. The city is looking at several options for funding.
Operating costs based on similar centers in the area is around $700,000 dollars which is offset by approximately $400,000 dollars in revenue. “Pools operate at a deficit.” explained Mr Weiss “They have to be subsidized. The only pools that support themselves are the ones in your backyard.”
Currently, it costs approximately $500,000 to operate the Brooks Street pool which is offset by $250,000 in revenue explained Eileen Turk, Parks and Recreation Division Manager, during the meeting.
“There are a lot of inefficiencies built into the older pools” continued Weiss “It will be less to operate a new pool.”
The new center will not replace the existing swim complexes but augment them by freeing up pool time when there are athletic events scheduled. “There is more than enough need to support the three”
There will be a City Council Priority workshop on February 11, from 11:30 to 2:00pm for those who wish to get involved in the process of the aquatics center. Oceanside City Council-member, Jack Feller explained “The whole City Council supports the project but when you go to the priority workshop, you need to go there understanding that it’s 12 million dollars and that just doesn’t appear from anywhere” he continued ” We all agreed to make this a priority so in the next 9-18 months we need to figure out where the 12 million dollars is coming from.