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The Manhattan Parks and Recreation Advisory Board was presented Monday with a first look at where a new proposed indoor aquatics facility could be constructed.

Representatives from the city’s consultant firm Vireo as well as some local architect groups, presented three design concepts for a reimagined City Park — all showing a proposed indoor aquatics center and adjacent outdoor pool on the north side of City Park along Fremont Street, near North Manhattan Avenue. The indoor facility would include a competition aquatics pool with spectator seating, a fitness center and a gymnasium, as well as community rooms and an indoor area for children.

The board was also presented with design concepts for a reimagined Northview Park, including one concept that replaces Northview Pool with a splash pad. The concepts are all part of the Manhattan Parks and Recreation Department’s Move MHK Comprehensive Plan, which is nearing completion.

“One of the considerations needs to be looking at consolidation. Putting splash pads in is a more equitable approach. They have tons of feature, but there is no cost. I do think that’s a viable option we need to consider,” said Aaron Stewart, Director of Manhattan Parks and Recreation.

Stewart says most cities the size of Manhattan have one or two pools maximum. He says the city is currently paying roughly $1 million annually as a subsidy for 11 weeks of water at its three pools.

“The reality is if we’re building new, we could build one indoor and one outdoor (pool) that would service the entire community and surrounding area and we could have that option to transition. There’s a much smaller financial subsidy for a splash park than there is for a pool, including staffing,” he said.

Stewart says any future project will likely require the partnership from Manhattan-Ogden USD 383, which currently does not have its own dedicated space for the Manhattan High School swim team. Superintendent Eric Reid joined KMAN’s In Focus this week and noted the district is prepared to partner in any potential project, but says he’s not sure to what extent that may be.

“We’re a 6A school district, we have two swim teams and we have a facility that we rent (from Genesis Health Clubs) for practices. but we don’t have anywhere to compete in meets locally. I think having something we can call partly our own is definitely a possibility so I think we definitely need to be in those conversations,” he said.

Reid says a number of variables come into play with what the school would need versus what the community wants and is willing to fund. The more a facility could suit the high school’s needs, the more he says the district would likely be able to be a partner in any potential project.

The City and USD 383 partnered recently in a 2018 school bond to develop the two recreation centers at Anthony and Eisenhower Middle Schools.

The City of Manhattan is currently exploring two potential sales tax questions to be posed to voters this year, including a possible extension of a quality of life sales tax scheduled to sunset in 2027, which could be looked at to help fund any future project.

City officials estimate a project could likely cost anywhere from $40 to $60 million.


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