New aquatic center coming to Butler County

Oxford Director of Parks and Recreation Casey Wooddell describes what will be included in the city’s new aquatic center at a groundbreaking ceremony Aug. 7. CONTRIBUTED/BOB RATTERMAN

The opening of Oxford’s aquatic center next May became a bit more real in the minds of residents with this month’s ceremonial groundbreaking — on a hot, humid day that would have been perfect for use of the facility.

Keep the date May 25, 2019, in mind. That is the day the new $4.5 million aquatic center is scheduled to officially open at Oxford Community Park.

Amenities planned for the facility will make it more appealing to all ages, said Casey Wooddell, Oxford Parks and Recreation Director. And officials expect the center to draw more than Oxford residents.

“The aquatic center will be a regional draw in Southwest Ohio and in Indiana,” said Ken Bogard, chair of the city’s recreation board.

The facility will have a separate competition pool, so swim team use will not prevent the public from using the pool, he said. Both pools will be heated.

“It will have an eight-lane competition pool, instead of the six lanes we have now. It will allow us flexibility with practice and swim meets and not cut off public swim time,” Wooddell said.

The public will have access to the competition pool when it is not in use by the swim team.

The main public pool will have a zero-depth entry so that the youngest children or those unable to land a cannonball anymore will be able to wade in at whatever level of water makes them comfortable.

A bathhouse/concession building will be constructed to allow access for other users of the park, such as those there for soccer games. There will also be an air-conditioned indoor space for 60 people.

There will be water slides, including one that will accommodate two or three people at a time.

The “lazy river” feature many wanted has also been maintained in the design and will include a party deck for special events.

Parking will be expanded and will include approximately 150 spaces, far more than available at the current pool at the TRI complex. TRI provides space for the city’s recreation needs, but it is not adequate for the new, larger facility, officials said.

“The old pool has been in use 48 years and served the city well over the years,” City Manager Doug Elliott said. “The master plan for the park in 1997 did include a water feature.”

Wooddell said the current pool is a financial hardship on the city.

“The old pool is leaking a lot of water,” he said. “It’s very expensive every year. A fiberglass shell does not do well in winters in Ohio.”

Plans are underway with the Oxford Community Foundation to open a fund through which residents can donate a variety of items for use at the aquatic center that were not part of the construction package.

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