A huge mound of dirt and the early framing of the new pool show progress on construction at the Oxford Community Park and now the facility has an official name.
The Oxford Aquatic Center was the name chosen by the Facility Naming Committee after consideration of several months, including a public survey and approval by City Council. The committee voted 4-1 to approve the name and Council approval came on a unanimous vote Oct. 16.
In that Council discussion, Director of Parks and Recreation Casey Wooddell said the public survey drew 286 responses.
“That was much higher than I had anticipated. It was nice to see so may people involved in the process,” Wooddell said.
He also told Council they held a drawing for a free season pass for next year and that was won by Doug Hamilton.
Vice Mayor Steve Dana thanked Wooddell for the work on the project and for a brochure with naming and fundraising possibilities for various items, at various cost levels, in the new facility. Items such as a family slide for $75,000 to entry pavers at $200 each are listed as amenities for the center and donations are being sought to pay for them. Donors will be honored on a recognition wall or a plaque near the donated item.
Some of the other donation options include a party deck or permanent shelter, at $25,000 each; scoreboard, $15,000; spectator seating or shade umbrellas at $5,000 each; pool basketball hoops or touchpads at $2,000 each; 14 concession tables at $1,200 each; and 10 shade trees at $500 each.
They are also seeking donations in any amount for scholarship funds for pool passes and swim lessons as well as lifeguard certification.
“This is a truly great event,” Mayor Kate Rousmaniere said, adding, “Ground is broken. We’ve been waiting for this. There are people in the audience who have been part of this for decades.”
In a later interview, Wooddell said the survey was simple, just four questions, with the first asking for naming suggestions for the new pool.
The top three were Oxford Aquatic Center, Oxford Aquatic Park and Oxford Water Park.
Some suggestions included names of specific people but Wooddell said the committee wanted it to reflect a sense of place which led to the top three names suggested in the survey.
“A lot of names had the word ‘splash’ in them but the committee felt the name (Oxford Aquatic Center) really fit what the community as a whole is going for,” he said. “The name represents what it is and where it is.”
He has said all through the process of planning and bidding the project he expects the facility to be a regional draw, bringing in people from a wide area, especially with many local communities shutting down their pools. The name, therefore, places it here and directional signs around the city will help people find it in the Oxford Community Park.
Footers were in place and Wooddell said he hoped some work on the building would begin this past Monday. He said he does not expect a problem from cold weather with regard to construction because the firm has done work in this area and workers know how to deal with winter weather here.
“The contractor is optimistic. We started a little later than we wanted to and rainfall for a couple weeks caused some delay but we are moving ahead,” he said.
The Oxford Aquatic Center not only now has an official name, it also has an address—701 Kay Rench Drive—on the main road running through the park. The recreation director said they gave the facility its own address, rather than just that of the park itself, largely to avoid confusion for deliveries of construction materials to the site, as well as for items needed after opening next year.
He told council the target date for the city taking possession of the construction is May 18 with opening on Memorial Day weekend.
With construction underway and an official name, it adds to the anticipation of the new facility. He said the naming is important but was not difficult.
“It was a simple process. It did not take too much time,” Wooddell said. “At the end of the day, the name reflects what the survey results showed.”