Aquatics facility project sites in Cape narrowed to three

Thursday, November 29, 2018
Plans are in the works for Central Municipal Pool at Cape Girardeau Central Junior High School, operated by the City of Cape Girardeau and the school district, to be replaced by a new aquatic center at a new location.
Southeast Missourian file

Committee members for a proposed aquatics facility narrowed down potential sites from 11 to three at a meeting Wednesday at Cape Girardeau's Osage Centre.

The sites under consideration are a tract at Highway 74 and South West End Boulevard, near Jefferson Elementary; one near the Cape Girardeau Sportsplex at Center Junction; and one near the Osage Centre on North Kingshighway.

Cape Girardeau public schools superintendent Neil Glass and school board President Kyle McDonald said the school board would not approve a facility not on school property.

The district's contribution of $3 million to $4 million also would depend on whether voters approve a bond issue in April, Glass added.

The city and school district had partnered to build and maintain the Bubble, a swimming pool next to Central Junior High School.

That facility is nearing the end of its usability, school officials have stated.

For the proposed aquatics center, the city is still accepting letters of interest from any other potential funding partners, said parks and recreation director Julia Jones.

The letters will be accepted through Nov. 30.

Another committee meeting is planned for Dec. 5 to review letters and to continue discussion on conceptual designs for the facility.

Denver-based Ohlson Lavoie Collaborative is serving as consultant on the project, along with partnering firms Ballard King and Waters Edge, according to previous reporting.

David Sprague of Ohlson Lavoie and Ballard King's Darin Barr joined the Wednesday meeting by phone.

Jones said at this stage, the layout of the facility is not as important as discussing the programming and location, as both of those considerations will help determine the layout needed.

Sprague discussed two conceptual models for the aquatics facility. One would include more recreational opportunities and room for swim competitions and practices; the other would lean more toward the competitions with less opportunity for recreational use.

Each option could work on any of the three proposed sites, Sprague said.

Jones said a facility with more recreation opportunity could be more self-sustaining, but high-school swim teams need practice and competition space.

Cape Girardeau city manager Scott Meyer said the larger the facility, the more it will cost to operate, both from the standpoint of staffing and providing utilities.

Sprague said if the facility were connected to an existing building, such as the Osage Centre, lobby and other entry facilities could be combined, thereby eliminating construction and staffing costs.

It's also possible to phase the plans, Sprague said.

"There are any number of possible scenarios," Sprague said.

Meyer asked Glass to provide a building layout of Jefferson Elementary to the consultant.

Glass agreed, noting the master plan for converting Jefferson to a STREAM school depends on whether the aquatic facility is on the grounds, but that the conversion will happen regardless of whether the facility is near Jefferson Elementary.

Meyer noted it is unusual for a school and city to come together on a project like this with money on the table, adding, "We're before the curve already."

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Marybeth Niederkorn
Community reporter, covering Business and Jackson
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