NEW ALBANY —
It was called half of a project, limited in scope, and “simply not enough”, but in the end, the New Albany City Council approved the design of an outdoor aquatic center Thursday.
The financing in the form of a bond note had previously been OK’d by the body, and with a 7-2 vote the council stamped the aquatic center, as well as a multi-use recreational facility and a makeover of Binford Park, as ready for construction.
Several members of the public spoke primarily about the aquatic center design — which was prepared by The Estopinal Group — with the majority opposing the plan.
New Albany resident Sam Schad recently presented Mayor Jeff Gahan with a letter and a petition with 302 names of people who wanted to see a more expansive aquatic center that could host competitive swim meets.
While the lazy river and zero-depth entry pool are worthy features, Schad said the aquatic center as designed doesn’t meet the needs of the community.
The aquatic center will be located at the former Camille Wright pool site, but Schad said it won’t match the attributes of the previous facility.
“The pool was used just as much for fitness as it was recreation,” he said of Camille Wright during the meeting.
The aquatic center should include a 50-meter pool for competitive swimming, Schad continued, though he added that at least a 25-meter facility would be better than what will be built.
“It’s as simple as taking this plan and drawing a rectangle in the middle,” he said.
Camille Wright was named after the New Albany native and Olympian. Susan Stoy said she grew up swimming competitively with Wright, and the city is missing out by not providing a more complete facility.
“I was astonished at the short-sightedness of it,” she said of the design.