ST. CHARLES – Efforts are gliding ahead for an Olympic-class indoor aquatic center in St. Charles.
Fundraising progress is buoying the hopes of organizers from Swim City USA, a local group working with the St. Charles Park District to create the facility at the district’s East Side Sports Complex along Kirk Road.
The natatorium, a building containing a swimming pool, would house a 10-lane, 50-meter-long Olympic-sized competition pool, along with a smaller, warm-water tank for recreation, therapy and teaching.
“It’s a really big opportunity for the community that will create benefits both socially and economically,” said Tony Cantrell, Swim City USA vice president.
The plan calls for constructing a building covering roughly 54,000 square feet on the site of an existing soccer field at the east end of Legacy Boulevard, Cantrell said.
The cost of the facility is estimated at $19 million, Cantrell said, with the goal for construction to begin next year and a 2020 opening.
Once complete, Swim City USA would give the facility to the park district, which would own and operate the aquatic center.
“There are going to be so many opportunities to program this facility,” said Laura Rudow, St. Charles Park District superintendent of parks and planning.
Both Rudow and Cantrell described an aquatic center that would offer everything from swimming lessons to recreational programs to therapeutic services.
And a showcase for competitive swimming in a facility that would be designed to attract major events, such as the high school swimming state finals.
“St. Charles has a deep aquatic legacy,” Cantrell said, pointing to past state championships.
Swim City USA’s market studies have shown there is plenty of room for the new facility to co-exist with the pool at the John B. Norris Recreation Center, Cantrell said.
The new natatorium would include spectator stands for the Olympic pool, Cantrell said.
The second pool would be a four-lane, 25-yard-long tank, Cantrell said, with a “zero-entry” feature allowing for swimmers young and old to wade gradually into the heated tank.
For now, the focus is on raising money to build the facility.
Lending its financial expertise and integrity to the effort is the Community Foundation for the Fox River Valley headquartered in Aurora, which is handling donations and accounting for the project.
Foundation president and CEO Jeff Hartman said the organization is administering the fund for the Swim City USA project. Gifts to the fund are taking the form of cash and stock donations, Hartman said.
The foundation and Swim City also are accepting in-kind donations such as legal and accounting services, he said.
Meanwhile, the key to financing the project, Cantrell said, will be securing the naming rights to the aquatic center by a major corporation. The goal is to provide the park district with not only the fully equipped natatorium, but an endowment to help pay for ongoing maintenance.
Rudow said that a full schedule of activities at the facility would be crucial to ensure the financial viability of the aquatic center.