By Nancy Amdur
The City of Santa Clara is taking strides toward forming a new swimming and recreation center, but the project likely will not get significantly underway “anytime soon,” said Jim Teixeira, the city’s director of parks and recreation.
An environmental impact report is expected to be circulated this spring for the plan, which calls for combining the city’s aging Community Recreation Center and International Swim Center and adding an International Swimming Hall of Fame. The proposed project would sit on three acres at the edge of Central Park along Kiely Boulevard—which is across the park from the city’s current aquatics facility.[contextly_sidebar id=”ARIdyOcSLLmXqpQwBkyJHaCLPNyR1xG6″]“We’re on track, but as a significant project, it will be dependent on available construction funding that we’d have to bring in before we move the project forward,” Teixeira said. “I don’t see it on the horizon anytime soon.” Project construction costs are still being determined, he added.
Proposed plans would move the city’s aquatics facility from its site near a single-family neighborhood to a busier street with two lanes of traffic moving in each direction and a turn lane. “It makes perfect sense,” Teixeira said. Also, joining the recreation center and the swimming facility will create operating efficiencies, he added. The facility is expected to realize a net decrease in energy consumption.
Plans for a new modern swim center have long been in the works. In 2013, Santa Clara City Council adopted a two-year goal to enhance community sports and recreational assets, including studying the current George F. Haines International Swim Center. More recently, the City Council last month reviewed the proposed schematic design and project phasing for the center. Berkeley-based ELS Architecture and Urban Design is working on the project. Also, the International Swimming Hall of Fame will lease an interim facility in Santa Clara and is expected to move in this summer.
The plan for a new expanded swim and recreation center is partly based on the need to serve Santa Clara’s growing population and “meet the demand and the need in the community,” Teixeira said. The city’s population has more than doubled since the swim center was built in 1967. The recreation center opened in 1975.
Additionally, the city’s international swim center has a history of producing Olympic swimmers and divers, who have earned a total of 71 medals. The new facility will help Santa Clara’s athletic programs to keep providing high-level training for local athletes while also enabling the city to attract revenue-generating national and international aquatic events, according to a city fact sheet about the plans.
The new facility is designed as a LEED-Platinum, net-zero energy-ready building featuring a rooftop park and windows that open the facility to the public and Central Park, according to information from the city. Plans call for the center to include a warm water pool; a 50-meter training/recreational pool; a 50-meter competition pool; and a performance diving tank with competition-regulation platforms.
The proposed design incorporates two more pools beyond what currently exists along with providing a new headquarters for the International Swimming Hall of Fame, now based in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. Community recreation space also would be expanded from 30,000 square feet to 86,600 square feet in the new facility and would offer a range of recreation, health, fitness, arts and activity areas, including a theater for performing arts.
A new above-grade parking structure up to 65-feet tall is being proposed to replace the current Pavilion lot near the corner of Homestead Road and Kiely Boulevard.
The city expects public/private partnerships and corporate sponsor opportunities could help finance construction costs. The Silicon Valley Aquatics Initiative—a local nonprofit group—and International Swimming Hall of Fame also are working on a capital campaign to raise construction funds.
The project is advancing “slowly,” Teixeira said. “We’re not at that point where we’re going to turn the light switch on. We have our capital improvement project budget and this is just one of probably 20 projects that are demanding funding.”