OCEANSIDE — The city’s new aquatic center is set to open in August.
A big project that has been in the works for years, the city announced it will hold a grand opening ceremony for the new El Corazon Aquatics Center on Aug. 21 from 9 a.m. to noon — nearly two years after the project broke ground in late October 2019.
While the aquatics center is opening to the general public in late August, its soft opening date is set for Aug. 2 to allow for high school water sports teams and clubs to begin practicing earlier.
Several of the city’s surrounding high schools including Oceanside, El Camino and Mission Vista, as well as other area clubs are set to use the pool. Prior to the new aquatics center, these schools would have to use one of Oceanside’s Brooks and Marshall Street pools or other facilities in nearby cities like Vista.
With the El Corazon Aquatics Center, the city is now able to service more of its own residents.
“Having the additional space will allow more residents to enjoy Oceanside facilities,” said Mark Olson, division manager of Parks and Recreation. “It’s going to be a wonderful, new addition to our recreational offerings that I think will please the public.”
The aquatics center will be open year-round for both recreational swimming and competitive programs. The facility includes a 56-meter competition pool; diving boards; a warm-water, instructional and therapy pool; children’s splash pad; concession area; locker rooms and spectator seating as well as administrative offices, meeting rooms and large, multi-purpose events center.
Staff started planning and designing the aquatic center in 2015 at the direction of City Council. Council approved the El Corazon Aquatics Center project in November 2018 and then the funding about a year after that, followed shortly by the groundbreaking ceremony.
The project was funded through the sale of bonds. PCL Construction of San Diego was awarded the pool’s $19.8 million construction contract.
The aquatics center may also undergo a name change later in the year along with two skate parks and potentially another city facility.
Back in April, Council designated four facilities to be considered for renaming. Those facilities include the El Corazon Aquatic Center as well as Alex Road Skate Park, Martin Luther King Skate Park and fourth, unidentified facility or park to be named after former Mayor Jim Wood.
The Parks and Recreation division received renaming applications for both of the skate parks, the aquatics center and Rancho Del Oro Park by the June 1 deadline. The Parks and Recreation Commission will review the applications in September and offer their recommendations on names to City Council following that month’s meeting.
Though Olson said he couldn’t share the names recommended in the applications until the Parks and Recreation Commission have first reviewed them, some residents have already spoken out about name changes they want.
In early January 2021, the city received several emails from residents asking the city to consider renaming the El Corazon Aquatics Center after the late Bill Wagner, who served as the Oceanside High School swimming and basketball coach.
Those who frequent Alex Road Skate Park know it better as “Prince Park,” a name that honors Michael “Prince” Johnson, a professional Oceanside skateboarder who died a month before the park opened in 2013. The park’s skateboard community has been hoping for an official name change for some time now.
The city will also beginning to work on plans for a new restroom and drinking fountain at Alex Road Skate Park that will mostly be powered by a photovoltaic system.
Mayor Esther Sanchez told the rest of Council in April that the skateboard community at Martin Luther King Skate Park had expressed interest in renaming the park after Shane Hidalgo, another Oceanside professional skateboarder who died in 2012.