The Coast News Group
Old - DO NOT USE - The Coast News

City may see aquatic center and water park

OCEANSIDE — The Economic Development Commission gave the green light for the city to start discussions that may lead to the development of a world-class aquatic center, 30-acre water park and 400-room hotel within the 465-acre El Corazon Park. 

The OK by the commission allows the city to explore whether Swimming Hall of Fame Partners is a viable developer.

“It will allow us to see if finance is feasible, terms are feasible, and conditions are feasible,” consulting assistant Peter Weiss said. “We want to assure ourselves they’re real.”

There is no concrete development plan to review prior to negotiations, but the developer has proposed a full-service extended stay hotel with meeting rooms, an auditorium and theater. Hotel rooms will be used for dormitory stays of athletes and coaches during long-term training, and rented to business groups for long-term stays.

The aquatics facility will include a 70-meter competition pool, therapy/teaching pool, and 25-meter-by-25-meter competition stadium.

A dry land training/sports therapy facility, museum and library are also part of the plan, as well as six beach volleyball courts, one championship court and permanent seating for 500.

The developer promises the final design will be consistent with the El Corazon Specific Plan and plans to utilize the loop road and trails included in the park specific plan for athlete training.

The time frame for talks between the city and Swimming Hall of Fame Partners is set for 180 days to see if a negotiation agreement can be reached.

If talks are favorable the agreement will go before City Council in January.

Some questions have already been raised.

Diane Nygaard, of Friends of El Corazon, questioned the size of the 400-room hotel, which is larger than the specific plan vision for two 150-room hotels.

“There is so much that is not specified,” Nygaard said. “I don’t want to move forward in the wrong direction.”

Nygaard also expressed concern about how the development will impact the park as a whole.

“The hotel is on a 6-acre site,” Nygaard said. “I’m concerned it’s significantly larger than 6 acres.

“What you do in one location effects the rest of the park.”

She added that it was not a bad idea to explore the development proposal.

Councilwoman Esther Sanchez attended the meeting. Afterward she said she wanted to be assured that staff was giving the proposal due diligence and that it fit within the park specific plan. Sanchez said she supported the Olympic size swimming pool, which the community wants as part of the park.

To date El Corazon Senior Center was opened within the park in 2009, and a groundbreaking for the development of 22 soccer fields, which are expected to be completed in 2014, was held in November.

The city approved a disposition and development agreement with Sudberry Development in January 2013 to develop the commercial and recreational areas of the park, which amount to about 60 acres. Sudberry gave approval for the city to negotiate with Swimming Hall of Fame Partners to develop part of the recreational area.