EL CENTRO — Aquatic contractors sweated through the summer heat to complete the finishing touches in time for the grand opening of the water park next month.
“The city of El Centro Aquatic Center is one of the largest undertakings we’ve had in the history in the city of El Centro. We commend our council for being so ambitious about it,” said Adriana Nava, the city’s community services director.
Grand opening for the $16 million El Centro Aquatic Center is Saturday, September 21, according to Nava. The water park features an eight lane competition pool, warmup skimmer pool, activity pool, and a lazy river.
The Aquatic Center is located between Adams Avenue and Park Avenue from North 4th to 6th street. West of the water park is Sidewinder Skate park and the Martin Luther King Jr. Sports Pavilion, which was the location of The Plunge, the city’s swimming pool that was demolished years ago.
A simultaneous project was the creation of a logo which will be used for marketing and promotion of the water park. Spectrum Advertising, a local company, created several options which were presented by Nava to the council. Based on the discussion and recommendations, the logo will be modified and presented at the next council meeting September 3.
The water park has been in construction for just over a year and the bulk of the construction work was plumbing, according to Nava. “We did have to import some soils to make sure that they’re able to carry the weight of the water.”
According to Nava, construction workers were finishing up work including concrete, buildings, and fences and should be completed in time for the grand opening next month. “We’re nervous but we’re very excited.”
A proposed fee schedule to access the water park services was presented to council members. A concern was to balance the fee with the recovery rate with the knowledge that the facility will not be making a profit per se, according to Nava.
“Currently, we are at about 30% recovery rate of what it costs for every person that walks in the door,” Nava said. For example, a resident who pays the proposed fee of $3 will cost the city about $10. Basically, the city is subsidizing the cost for lifeguards, air conditioning, water and amenities.
And yet the city is also mindful of the socioeconomic factors of its residents. “How much can we charge people so they can afford and enjoy the facility yet recover some of the cost that goes into operating the facility?”
Council members discussed possible ways to recover the cost for the facility such as renting out the facility party room, which has an occupancy of 89 persons, for special events such as quinceañeras and birthdays.
Nava said she will get back to the consultants with several scenarios and the recovery rate for each.
“The operational costs are anticipated to be about $1.7 million per year. The bulk of that are salaries, $1.2 million for personnel cost,” according to Nava.
The $16 million Aquatic Center project was funded through Redevelopment Agency (RDA) bonds issued in 2015, said Nava.
“We are eager for it to open and get started. We do hope that it becomes a quality-of-life element, not only in El Centro, but the entire Imperial Valley,” Nava said.