Pooling support for an aquatics center | SierraSun.com

Pooling support for an aquatics center

Sierra Countis
Sierra Sun

An enthusiastic but wary group of swimming pool advocates listened to plans for a $25 million aquatics facility as part of Truckee’s new community center at a public forum in Truckee Wednesday night.

Representatives of the Truckee Donner Park and Recreation District unveiled conceptual plans for a multi-million-dollar facility that includes two lap pools and a recreation pool, complete with a lazy river and water slides. While the recreation district has no formal blueprints for the aquatics center, the first public review of the proposed facility generated numerous comments about its estimated cost and features.

“We know we’re not going to walk out of here tonight knowing what’s going in the facility,” said Dan O’Gorman, the district’s recreation superintendent.

The 14-acre parcel in the Commercial Triangle was donated by East West Partners for a community project, as specified in East West’s Gray’s Crossing development agreement. The parcel was awarded to the district with Truckee Town Council approval, but the recreation district is under time constraints to construct the community center or lose its entitlement to the parcel.

The first phase of the three-phase community facility is set to break ground in June or July, said Amanda Conk, the district’s aquatics coordinator. Plans for the first two phases include a double gymnasium with elevated running track, administrative offices, community spaces, a fitness area, art room, game room, preschool room and a catering kitchen.

Originally planned for phase three, the natatorium or aquatics complex will house a pool designed specifically for toddlers and seniors, two lap pools, a recreation pool, water slides, a lazy river and a climbing wall.

The district’s goal for the public meetings is to rally community support for the aquatics facility and to raise funds to build the center, said Conk. Some of the nearly two dozen pool advocates at the forum questioned the project’s estimated $20 million to $25 million building costs, voicing concerns over how the funds could be raised.

The first phase of construction will be financed with $6.5 million from the district’s general fund and an additional $6 million to $7 million in grants, loans and mitigation fees, according to the district.

No grant funding has yet been sought for the aquatics center project, but “if it’s out there, we’re willing to go for it,” said Steve Randall, the district’s general manager.

Other members of the audience expressed frustration over the use of bond measures to pay for a performing arts facility and an aquatics center, wondering whether Truckee residents would be willing to pay for both proposed facilities.

Construction and maintenance costs for the performing arts center would likely come from a combination of private and public funding, Randall said.

According to the district’s first survey results, a performing arts center was the No. 1 public facility that residents wanted to see constructed, with a pool facility garnering the support of half the respondents, Randall said.

“Are you willing to fund the research for an aquatics facility?” asked Jennifer Ingalls, board president of the Truckee Tahoe Swim Team.

Referring to the community forum as a first grassroots meeting, Randall said the district hopes to gain further public input during the planning process, and suggested that subcommittees be formed to research ideas for the proposed aquatics facility, raise community awareness about the project, and organize fundraising.

Randall said the district will develop another local survey this fall regarding the aquatic center.

Calling themselves “pool people,” the aquatic center advocates tentatively plan to meet again in three weeks to focus on the subcommittees.