TERRE HAUTE —
On Monday night, Vigo County government officials proposed a county-built and operated indoor swim facility and outdoor water park, as well as a partnership with the Vigo County School Corp.
The county has proposed that the school district lease the facility to meet VCSC high school athletic program and curriculum needs.
“We would like the opportunity to have further discussions regarding potential long-term lease agreements with the school corporation,” said Bill Thomas, County Council president.
He outlined a general proposal during Monday’s School Board meeting, in which the school district laid out its own proposal for a new, centrally located pool facility to replace three aging ones at the high schools.
The school district estimated the cost of its proposed facility at $8.9 million, to be funded through a general obligation bond issue.
Under the county’s proposal, the indoor facility would have a 65-meter competition pool and diving well; an instructional pool that could be used by community members for lap swimming, recreation and lessons; and a therapy pool. It would seat about 2,000 spectators.
The indoor model is based on a facility that staged the 2013 NCAA Division III Swimming and Diving Championships, an event that brought in more than $1.5 million to the host community over a four-day event, Thomas said Monday.
“Through progressive programming, our facility could be open to the community, as well as the schools,” Thomas said.
The outdoor water park would be modeled after other community-oriented outdoor water parks, Thomas said. It would include water slides, a lap pool, lazy river and splash area, he said.
After the meeting, Thomas explained that the facility potentially could be built using Economic Development Income Tax (EDIT) funds. The facility could be operated using a variety of revenue streams that could include a lease agreement with the school district, rentals, fees, usage and events.
Funding details have yet to be developed, including a cost estimate, Thomas said. County officials need to meet with school district officials first to gauge their interest.
County Auditor Tim Seprodi said that once more details become available, he will contact the state Department of Local Government Finance to find out what kind of bonding capacity the county would have for a project of this nature.
“It is in a preliminary stage, and they are looking at what kind of funding sources they would have available,” Seprodi said. County officials are exploring other possible partnerships, such as with local colleges and universities. They also are looking for grants.
Superintendent Dan Tanoos said he expects to meet with county officials on Thursday. He has previously met with Thomas; Kathy Miller, a county council member; and Ryan Oilar, Vigo County Council administrator. He’s also met individually with other county council members
“At this point, it’s a matter of listening to what they have to say,” Tanoos said. “It’s their idea of expanding on what we’ve proposed.”
The district is on a timeline because of the condition of the aging pools. If the plan can meet the VCSC timeline and financial parameters, “and more importantly, meet the needs of students and the school system, I think that we’re open to that conversation,” Tanoos said.
Thomas believes the county proposal addresses two concerns the public has: It would be open to the public, and it would not be built with property tax dollars.
The facility could be used by VCSC students and its swim teams; it could potentially draw swimming meets and competitions; and it could draw visitors to the water park, he said.
“It could bring in different organizations for different meets on the natatorium side,” he said Monday. “I really feel this could have a nice economic impact on the county.”
Oilar said the county is still studying funding options of a proposed county facility. “The (county) model does not require funding from the school district, but there is obviously a need on the part of the district for a pool facility,” he said Monday night.
Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or email@example.com.