Oceanside aquatic center approved ‘as is’

OCEANSIDE — The City Council gave the initial OK on Dec. 7 for El Corazon Park aquatic center to be built immediately next to the senior center.

The location is a detour from the park Specific Plan that envisions the swim complex on the opposite west end of the 465-acre park.

The relocation of the aquatic center provides ready infrastructure, which allows the facility to be built sooner.

The site is also geologically sound and manageable to grade.

The park sits on land that was once used for mining operations.

The land presents numerous building challenges, including bedrock 35 feet below ground level and an old pond.

The planned aquatic center will occupy 2.2 acres, and include a competition length pool, instructional pool, kids splash pad and poolside bleachers.

There will be a courtyard and 8,500-square-foot shared building between the aquatic center and the neighboring senior center.

The swim complex will also have its own 5,000-square-foot building and entrance.

A total 258 parking spaces will be shared between the two facilities. The aquatic center build will add 67 spaces, included in the total.

Prior to the City Council approval on Dec. 7 more than half a dozen speakers shared their support for the aquatic center.

Most speakers said they were associated with local swim and water polo teams, and welcomed the competition-sized pool.

Fellow residents also shared their support, and a few concerns.

Joan Bockman, a member of Friends of El Corazon, questioned if the shared parking would be adequate for both facilities during peak use.

City staff said parking would be sufficient, and large event parking would be scheduled and managed between the two city facilities.

The Planning Commission had similar concerns and recommended assurance of mitigation for alternative transportation, due to the shared parking in November.

Commissioners also recommended the aquatic center be built further apart from the senior center.

However council members supported plan changes “as is.”

“This is an easy fix for me, let’s move this along as fast as we can,” Councilman Jack Feller said. “I think El Corazon is going to be that much better with a swimming pool.”

The aquatic center will cost about $13 million to build. Project financing is being explored, including applying for available grants and refinancing Civic Center bonds. If bonds are refinanced they will provide money for the swim complex and other key city projects.

Mayor Jim Wood said Oceanside Unified School District swim and water polo teams would need to pay for pool use at the new facility, which they do not do at current city facilities.

Final plans for the aquatic center are expected to be completed in August.

The City Council gave final approval on Dec. 14.

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