Oro Valley Aquatic Center

A construction worker packs dirt around the foundation of the new pool as part of the new Oro Valley Aquatic Center.

J.D. Fitzgerald/The Explorer

Following a unanimous vote by the Oro Valley Town Council on June 20 to approve an additional $1.55 million for expansion of the Town’s Aquatic Center, construction is on schedule.

According to Town Manager Greg Caton, a 2010-2011 fiscal year feasibility study estimated the Town’s costs for the Aquatic Center expansion to be about $3.45 million, but as staff began the bid process and commenced planning, the dollar amount proved insufficient to provide the family-friendly and competitive-level destination promised to residents.

The study, which cost the Town $20,000, originally estimated an economic impact of close to $2.2 million for swim events in the 2010-2011 fiscal year.

According to OV Communications Director Misti Nowak, since the final phase of the Aquatics  Center will not be complete until later this fiscal year, the Town has not budgeted or anticipated for any event revenues for the 2012-2013 year, though one major event is already scheduled.

In March 2013, the Town will host a state competition for an eight and under age bracket, with about 250 swimmers to compete. Caton anticipates the event will have an economic impact of $300,000 to $400,000. Nowak said expenses will likely outweigh revenues in the 2012-2013 fiscal year, but she and Caton expressed optimism that the Town would see a larger economic impact as more events are scheduled.

The expenditures will be subsidized out of the Bed Tax Fund.

Currently, construction crews are performing phase one plans, pouring concrete for the 50-meter pool, and establishing phase two plans to include one-meter and three-meter diving boards, competition lighting, splash pad play equipment, pump room shade structure, a 22-foot slide that twists 540 degrees, bleachers and shade structure, scoreboard, extra decking and drainage.

Caton said the Aquatics Center, upon completion, would be fit for national and international competition, in turn driving the Town’s economy as visitors spend money in Oro Valley.

Caton added that there has been interest in the pool at the collegiate level as well, with inquiries recently coming from New Mexico State University for a swim meet in the latter part of 2013.

 “Once the facility is open, we are optimistic teams will likely use the pool to train for meets as well,” Caton said. “We are actively pursuing at the international level, also.”

Caton said the council’s decision to support the additional funding has been well received by the public.

“When residents hear that this projected is funded with restricted funds, which have to be used for economic development or tourism related activities, they believe this is a wise use of funds,” he said. “Residents are pleased to hear that these improvements have a return on investment of two and a half years and the Town has already secured the first event in March 2013.”

Nowak added that the Town has heard no criticisms from the public about the quality of the facility.

Mayor Satish Hiremath commented on the Aquatics Center in the June 20 council meeting.

“I commend our council for remaining flexible and openminded as we delved further into the project and realized there would be some unmet needs,” he said.  

“They understand the importance of constructing a high-quality facility without cutting corners that will ultimately hurt the community. They have shown tremendous support for this project and want to ensure we deliver on the promises we’d made to our community.”

The additional $1.55 million for the expansion will come from reallocated funding from Wal-Mart ($250,000), the Bed Tax Contingency Reserve ($300,000), General Government Impact Fees ($95,000), General Fund Contingency Reserves ($524,000), and Council Designated Reserves ($386,000).

The original $3.45 million in funding was split between Excise Tax Revenue Bonds, parks and recreation impact fees, and the Bed Tax Fund.

The first phase of the construction for the 50-meter pool is scheduled for completion by August. The second phase of construction, including the 25-yard pool, and renovations, is scheduled for completion by February 2013.

Residents interested in making donations for the Aquatics Center construction can do so in person at Town Hall or online at http://www.orovalleyaz.gov/Online_Services/Friends_of_the_Pool_Donations.htm.

To date, residents have donated $6,800.

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