Now that the Vigo County School Corp. has set sights on construction of a central Aquatics Center to serve its long-standing swim programs, the next challenge is in the details.
First up is determining a location for the center, which is expected to cost no more than $9.8 million and will be funded by a bond issue. After performing what certainly appears to be a thorough and exhaustive review of potential sites, Superintendent Dan Tanoos, a key proponent for the project, revealed to the School Board at its Monday meeting that he will recommend on behalf of the pool committee that Voorhees Park be selected as the center’s location.
The board did not vote on the proposal and is not expected to do so until its next meeting in late October. But it did vote unanimously to support moving forward on the project with “great urgency.”
There’s no doubt something needs to be done as quickly as possible, although building design and construction are not things that can or should be rushed. The current pool facilities at the district’s three major high schools are in poor shape and deteriorating. It would be unwise to put any but emergency or safety resources into those pools.
Reaching a consensus in short order on a site may be key in giving the project momentum.
Voorhees Park — located on Indiana 63 and Voorhees Street on the city’s southwest side — is owned and operated by the City of Terre Haute. There’s plenty of space for the eight-acre aquatics complex while maintaining the integrity of the 11-acre park’s other features, primarily its picnic area and skate park. The proximity of the park to Terre Haute’s busy South Third Street commercial corridor and its hotels and restaurants definitely adds to its attractiveness as a site.
Of course, the city will have to agree to devoting park space to the pool facility. Parks are community resources. Taking even a small chunk of park space out of public use requires careful consideration.
From the school district’s point of view, however, about the only serious question about the Voorhees site is whether it meets the desired goal of being a central location within the county. It’s obviously closer to Terre Haute South than to North and West Vigo.
Tanoos and the pool committee looked at 16 sites. As Tanoos explained, the Voorhees site emerged as the best site after all factors were considered. They did their homework. While there may be other sites that are better in terms of specific criteria, the favored site seems to meet the greatest number of needs.
The district is taking a diligent approach to the project and we’re impressed with progress so far. There’s a long way to go, but the project seems to be on the right track.