By Reggie Ellis @Reggie_SGN
VISALIA – A possible aquatics center discussed at the corner of Recreation Park will likely be built closer to the heart of downtown or halfway across town.
City Councilmember Greg Collins said a committee of between 15 and 30 residents supporting the idea of a city-owned aquatic center recently voted on two possible locations to build the facility. After several meetings over the last year, Collins said the committee narrowed the list of 10 possible locations to Plaza Park and among five city-owned properties in the downtown area near the new Visalia Emergency Communication Center (VECC) on Burke Street north of Center Avenue.
The next step, Collins said, is to begin working on the design of the facility. The councilman said he would presenting a slide show with some ideas of scope and size of the facility and how it will fit into either location. Collins said the committee will be gathering input about the design of the facility at yet-to-be scheduled meeting in March, mostly likely held at the Visalia Senior Center.
“I think this project has certainly piqued people’s interest,” he said.
Last summer, Collins presented a design concept that included building a 50-meter competition swimming pool, surrounding grandstands, a water slide and kiddie pool and locker rooms at the southeast corner of Recreation Park. About 75 people turned out for the June 28 meeting and supported the idea as well as offering a few of their own.
Collins has publicly stated there is a growing need for an aquatic center in Visalia because the amount of available time in the pool is shrinking for nearly every group. He said public swim time, lap swim for exercise, triathlete training and swim lessons are constantly competing with high school swim, water polo and dive teams. Collins said the City of Visalia and Visalia Unified School District have an agreement that high school athletics get scheduling preference during the school year but that City programs exercise that right in the summer months.
The real question will be how the facility will be funded for both construction and maintenance costs. Collins said fund-raising will have to play a major role in building the facility but naming rights, grants for disadvantaged youth programs and parks and recreation impact fees on new development will also be in the mix.
To reach Councilmember Collins directly, email email@example.com or leave him a voicemail at 713-4400, extension 6313.