A group of notable Newport citizens and city officials gathered Monday at the first turning of the dirt for the construction of Newport’s new municipal swimming pool, if not regional aquatic center. The over $9 Million project was endorsed by the voters – a little higher in cost that was contemplated – but such is what happens when the vote is at the tail end of an economic recession but construction begins well into the recovery from the recession. Prices are bound to go up.
City officials said that the gap in what the bond election advertised versus what it’ll REALLY cost be will be covered by project reserves and contributions from the city, largely borrowing from tourism and construction funds for other projects, projects that are low enough priority that delays shouldn’t be a problem.
Three aspects of the project that are technically “iffy” include the Flow Channel, the spa area and the Covered Entrance. Officials say the biggest unknown about extra costs pertain to the ground underneath where the pool will be built. The ground is largely “fill,” meaning it was built up from the side of a canyon. Depending on what excavators find down there will determine the cost of the footing and base for the pool. Once that’s determined, officials say they should be able to determine which of those three aspects might not initially get included in the project. They say their priorities are listed like this:
* #1 priority to NOT be dropped is the Flow Channel. That CANNOT be added later.
* #2 priority to NOT be dropped is the Spa Area. That CAN be added later.
* #3 priority to NOT be dropped is the Covered Entrance. That CAN be added later.
Construction is now underway with a probable completion date in roughly 14 months – or early January 2017 at the latest.
Prior to that time Parks and Recreation personnel and members of the Seahorse Swim Team will be recruiting swim meets from throughout Oregon to help ensure swimmers all over Oregon are aware of the new Newport Aquatic Center. The new center will also be included in the tourism promotion efforts of the Chamber of Commerce and other regional tourism promotion agencies and tourism accommodation industries.