Council ok’s Aquatic Center conceptual design

Council member Gabby Basua (Photo by Chris Frost)

Council member Gabby Basua (Photo by Chris Frost)

Oxnard– The City Council, Tuesday, September 6, approved the Alternate B conceptual design of the proposed South Oxnard Aquatic Center.

Council Member Gabby Basua made the motion and said after considerable debate about the pool’s size, that it would come down to a matter of give and take. The Alternate B conceptual design would save the City $5 million.

“That includes no exclusions to the programming or reductions to the water pools,” she said. “The amenities that will not be included are the plaza fountain, the picnic deck, and it will reduce administration, offices, site development, hardscape, and spraygrounds.”

The South Oxnard Aquatic Center will be within College Park and kicked off with the help of State Senator Monique Limón, who provided $5 million in grant funds to conduct community outreach and the Aquatic Center’s architectural/ engineering design. The City held workshops about the South Oxnard Aquatic Center’s design and received lots of community input.

The South Oxnard Aquatics Center will service the City’s youth, adults, and seniors, expand recreation, water fitness, and competitive aquatics opportunities and equip residents with water safety knowledge within a familyfriendly environment.

Councilman Bert Perello asked if the structures would be concrete or can they be metal buildings to get a better “bang for the buck?”

“We have gone away from metal, but concrete masonry is a pretty good value,” Els/ President/CEO Clarence Mamuyac Jr. said. “Municipalities up and down the state are generally where we land.”

Councilman Gabe Teran asked if changes would occur if the City approves a 30-meter rather than 50-meter competition pool and Mumuyac said the City will have a great competition venue with a 30-meter pool.

City Manager Alex Nguyen said the South Oxnard Aquatic Center’s development has been hurt by the economy and the change of leadership at Oxnard College.

“There is always that potential in the future, yes,” he said.

Seven-Time Olympic Medalist Dana Vollmer- Grant, part of the Els Architecture team, said having a little bit of shallow water in a 30-meter pool still means there will still be eight competition lanes that are all deep, and it will get shallower.

“It gives more use of the pool for a wide range of the community in terms of not being all deep,” she said. “It can be a little intimidating for people working towards that level of swimming.”

During public comments, Molly McCarthy said she has knowledge of programs, lap swimming, water aerobics, and lessons that were built at Camarillo High School.

“We jumped in, it was too small, and I had to cut my teams down to a smaller size because we did not have water space,” she said.

Larry Stein has been involved with the College Park pool for over 22 years as part of the recommendation committee, and although he likes the idea of a 50-meter pool, but doesn’t like spending $63 million.

“My concept of a pool 22 years ago was maybe $5 million to build a very basic pool,” he said. “I still think it is time for that thought. How much money do you want to spend, and what can you get for that money?”

He asked what the City could get for $30 million.

“We talked about $14 million last year, then we were looking at $30 million at the beginning of this year, and now we’re looking at $60 million,” he said. “I would suggest to City Council that you recommend a certain type of pool, then start talking about money and budgets.”

Mike Giles said his family moved to Oxnard in 1963, and he and his sister grew up swimming with the Oxnard Swim Club.

“The City of Oxnard has come a long way,” he said. “We have a lifelong aquatic family. My wife and I run a club program supporting Oxnard, Ventura, and the community.”

He said Oxnard is becoming the center of where everybody wants to come.

“What we want to do is take advantage of that 50-meter competition pool that can generate the tourism for people staying during events and send the money to local businesses and year-round assets,” he said. “A 50-meter competition pool will create the most competition-level athletes. Multiple levels and groups can be at that pool at the same time, allowing athletes to try different sports and programs. More community members will be served. This is a great way to build a community safety program for our underprivileged kids. I think the State is flush, and we can find that money to build that 50-meter pool.”

Angela Whitecomb said she knows how to do research, and the pool is a fabulous program where you have children and recreation areas and build confidence.

“You have a smaller pool where you learn how to swim better, but you’re going to need that 50-meter pool,” she said. “I say that because of all the increased activities in it. If you have 50 meters, you have more opportunities to do more things. If it’s that much of a difference, put it out to a vote. Ask the citizens what they’re willing to pay for.”

Nguyen reminded everyone about the broader concept of swimming pools in Oxnard and noted that local schools have swimming pools.

“Part of what we wanted to do is get to who would be fish and could be Olympian swimmers,” he said. “What kind of pool do we need to make sure that the little kids that exposure?”

He said it’s more than finding an additional $13 million for a 50-meter pool, and the City will bond for a large portion of that money.

“It would be similar to a loan or mortgage, and it would actually cost more than that,” he said. “It’s not as simple as the sticker price.”

He said the discussion regarding tourism and revenue; there is no intention to establish a Council priority based on revenue.

“We are not building an Aquatic Center that is focused on chasing competitions and trying to make money,” Nguyen said. “This Aquatic Center, as I understood from the Council’s direction, is for this community.”