The Coast News Group
Community Community Oceanside

Aquatic center final project to be shared over next three months, still unfunded

OCEANSIDE — Residents will get one more look at plans for El Corazon Aquatic Center during the next three months. The final project and environmental impact report will be shared at public meetings in October, November and December.

The center includes a 56-meter competition pool, instructional pool and kids splash pad. There is also seating for 600 people, a shaded deck area, full locker rooms and an administration building.

The state-of-the-art facility will use green design elements that include solar energy and

rain water irrigation.

New resilient materials and high-efficiency equipment will be a major improvement over the two dated city swimming pools that are too small for competition events.

“It allows a lot of opportunity for the community to expand aquatic youth participation, and additional public amenities and services,” Nathan Mertz, city capital improvement projects engineer, said.

Mertz said there are no changes to the project since it was shared last year. El Corazon Specific Plan designates what architecture and landscaping are allowed, and plans follow those guidelines.

Once the aquatic center gets council approval, city staff will see the project through its final design phase, and get it ready for construction by April 2017.

“(Following approval) We will be working on construction documents, permits for water, sewer, building,” Mertz said. “It will be a shovel-ready project for when funding becomes available.”

A funding source for the $12 million project still needs to be finalized.

City Council is expected to decide whether and how much to refinance in city bonds when it gives project approval in December.

Council approved the refinancing of $9.5 million in city bonds in June 2015, with a promise from Councilwoman Esther Sanchez the money would be reissued to fund the aquatic center.

In order to allocate funds to the aquatic center the project’s design work must be completed.

Mayor Jim Wood and Deputy Mayor Chuck Lowery have expressed past concerns about bond refinancing that is paid by homeowners. Lowery requested more community education and public input.

Peter Weiss, former city manager and current city consultant, said refinancing bonds would not require a tax increase because they would be paid with the money the city now uses to pay for the Civic Center.

If bonds that are set to be paid off in 2019 are refinanced they could be used to build the aquatic center and other priority projects, such as a fire station, beach restrooms and railroad quite zone. Up to $25 million can be refinanced.

Aquatic center plans will be presented to the Parks and Recreation Commission Oct. 11, El Corazon Standing Committee Oct. 18, Planning Commission on Nov. 7, and the City Council Dec. 7.