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Renderings of the future El Corazon Aquatics Center. Photo via Facebook
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City approves construction for El Corazon Aquatics Center

OCEANSIDE — For years, residents and city officials have buzzed about needing a new community pool. Now, with money secured through bonds, the city has hired someone to make that dream become a reality in less than two years.

At its Oct. 9 meeting, City Council gave its greenlight for the city to award a construction contract of $19.9 million to PCL Construction of San Diego to build the El Corazon Aquatics Center.

To pay for the pool, council also agreed to use the sale of lease revenue bonds not to exceed $28,000,000.

Financial Services Director Jane McPherson said the city chose to go with bonds over other methods of funding it considered, like the use of Measure X funds, use of reserves, development projects and the cannabis industry.

“It’s the lowest cost financing option,” McPherson said, adding lease revenue bonds currently have historically low rates.

The use of bonds helps the city preserve its cash reserves and provides flexibility for using the bond revenue for “unforeseen future needs” like an infrastructural catastrophe or a recession, McPherson said.

“By doing bonds you spread the cost to current and future users,” McPherson said.

The lease revenue bonds for the El Corazon Aquatics Center have a 30-year term.

The El Corazon project first came about in April 2015 when council directed staff to begin the proper studies for looking into building a new community pool.

According to City Engineer Brian Thomas, a groundbreaking ceremony will be held Oct. 30. Construction will start Dec. 1 and is expected to be completed by April 2021 with the aquatics center set to open in June 2021.

The total cost of the project is an approximate $26 million, Thomas said. That number includes pool construction, construction of an East and West building, water fees, internet connection, and various other materials and services required for the operation of the aquatics center.

Council approved both the funding and the construction of the aquatics center project 4-1, with only Councilman Chris Rodriguez opposed.

Rodriguez wanted the city to pay off the bonds in 10 years as opposed to 30. By doing so, he said the city would save $11 million. He also wanted to put a down payment on the pool.

Deputy Mayor Jack Feller said he believes “the funding is there” for the aquatics center.

“We can refinance the pool in 10 years,” he said. “I mean how many have refinanced our house to buy another house or other types of things? That’s what we’re doing here.”