News From Terre Haute, Indiana

January 24, 2014

Pool location lease approved

Voorhees Park site OK’d 3-0 in special meeting

Sue Loughlin
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — A new Vigo County School Corp. aquatics center at Voorhees Park moved one step closer Friday, with approval of a long-term lease agreement by the Terre Haute Parks Board.

The agreement must now go before the Vigo County School Board, which is expected to take action at its Feb. 10 meeting.

The parks board approved the lease by a 3-0 vote in a special meeting that lasted about five minutes. “I’m sure it will be an exceptional facility for you guys, and I know it will be a great improvement for Voorhees Park and that area down there and bring more life to it,” said parks board president Mike Webster. “I think it’s a great deal.”

He said Mayor Duke Bennett, who could not attend because of another commitment, “is 100 percent supportive of the lease as it’s written.”

The agreement calls for an initial 25-year lease for $1, with an option to renew for two subsequent 25-year terms, or a total of 75 years. The school district will lease about eight acres of the 11-acre park.

Initially, the school district had proposed a 99-year lease, but according to Chou-il Lee, city attorney, city code only allows the parks board to enter into a 25-year lease.

The lease calls for the school district to maintain the facility and property that it leases, including an entrance, boulevard and parking lots, while the city parks would maintain the rest of the park.

The school district also would be responsible for such things as insurance and utilities for the property it leases, Lee said.  

The agreement covers potential long-term issues that could arise, such as what happens to the facility if the school district at some point no longer wanted to operate a pool at the site.

The parties agree that if such a scenario ever occurred, the aquatics facility would revert to the parks department.

After the vote, superintendent Dan Tanoos told the parks board, “I know we’ll have a great working relationship.” He plans to advise the School Board on Monday of the park board action and will ask the board to approve it on Feb. 10.

Groundbreaking for the $9.8 million facility is slated for June, with the aquatics center set to open in August 2015.

The center will replace aging pools at Terre Haute North Vigo High School, Terre Haute South Vigo High School and West Vigo High School.

According to a conceptual floor plan presented in November, a 50-meter long pool by 25 yards wide would be housed in a 30,000-square-feet building. The pool would include a diving area.

The main public entrance to the center would open up to a 284 square-feet lobby area that then would lead to an elevated spectator seating area, which would have about 350 seats.

The facility also would include a therapy pool,  bathrooms, showers, concession area, storage, offices and boys team lockers and girls team lockers.

Outside the center, a new park entrance along Prairieton Road is also planned as is a “boulevard drive” that would circle in front of the aquatic center and lead to two parking areas, which would accommodate about 75 cars each.

Garmong Construction Services is the construction manager and CSO Architects of Indianapolis, the designer.

Eddie Bird, city parks superintendent, said after Friday’s meeting, “I think it’s a good thing for the park … I think this will bring a lot more people in.”

If funding allows, the parks department in the future might add a splash pad or perhaps even an outdoor pool in the area not leased by the school district. A skate park built five years ago has brought a lot more participation at the park, he said.

The project will beautify the park, and competitive swimming events hosted at the site will likely bring a lot of people and added revenue to town, Bird said.

It’s  a good example of the city, parks department and school corporation working together to make Terre Haute a better place, Bird said.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or sue.loughlin@tribstar.com.