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New location for Greenwood Aquatic Center being explored

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GREENWOOD, Ind. (April 23, 2014)– Construction bids are all in, and Greenwood City leaders hope to start construction next month on the city’s new aquatic center at Freedom Park. But even with the groundbreaking so close, there is a new idea about where the pool park should go.

Greenwood City Council member Thom Hord wants to explore the idea of building the aquatic center on the other side of Interstate 65, next to the soon-to-be built GoodSports Village athletic complex. Hord thinks the location and proximity to the complex could give the aquatic center more visibility and revenue.

“The amount of traffic they bring in, and the type of traffic they bring in,” Hord told FOX59. “I think it could be a win-win for the aquatic center, the city of Greenwood and GoodSports itself.”

The aquatic center at Freedom Park is initially expected to lose money. Anticipated revenues from ticket sales and concessions are not expected to cover the cost of operating the facility. Greenwood Mayor Mark Myers plans to seek corporate sponsors to cover the shortfall.

But Councilman Hord wants to know if locating the pool next to the sports complex could give it enough extra business to make the pool more sustainable. The GoodSports complex is expected to attract thousands of young athletes and their families.

“I know that when one of my kids is playing, the other ones are looking for something to do,” Hord said. “If you’ve got an aquatic center right next door, why not send them there?”

However, Mayor Myers has concerns about the idea of moving the aquatic center further away from Greenwood residents. In essence, he thinks moving the aquatic center would be like taking away a neighborhood pool that doesn’t even exist yet.

“When you take it across the highway, you severely limit the accessibility from the residents of Greenwood and from the kids who are going to ride or walk,” Myers said. “We don’t have a trail system to get you across the interstate right now in those areas.”

Myers also doesn’t believe the benefit of moving the pool would outweigh the cost. The City of Greenwood already owns the land at Freedom Park. Across I-65, the city would have to buy the land.

“And that ground is anywhere from $150,000 to $300,000 an acre,” Myers said. “And we’re looking at 10 acres.”

In addition, if Greenwood buys the land, Myers says the city would lose $660,000 in annual property taxes that GoodSports would have been paying. Moving the pool would also require changes to the designs, new soil testing at the new site and other changes. He believes the move could delay the aquatic center’s construction and opening by a year.

Councilman Hord agrees that a year delay would be too long to wait, but he’s waiting for more study on the issue. He has asked an engineering firm and the city controller to examine the possible affects of the location change. He hopes to have more answers by the end of the week.

Meantime, the city expects to award construction bids for the Freedom Park location on May 13.