Round Rock explores $25M aquatics center

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The city of Round Rock, Round Rock ISD and the YMCA are contemplating constructing a large indoor aquatics center on A.W. Grimes Boulevard. The center would be located on 10 acres of land donated to the YMCA by the Avery family, next door to the possible future site of a new RRISD high school at the intersection of A.W. Grimes and Old Settlers Boulevard.

Bob Cervi, Round Rock ISD chief operations officer, presented a plan for the center to the board of trustees at a March 3 workshop.

Each RRISD high school sends its swim team to a different city-owned or YMCA pool, according to the presentation. Only the Chasco YMCA Pool, which was built in 2010 with $2 million from the city of Round Rock and $4 million from the YMCA, is located indoors.

An aquatics facility would allow RRISD to host eight to ten district and regional swim meets per year, which would also attract overnight visitors and tourism to the city, according to the proposal.

The city and RRISD would share the cost of construction and operations; the YMCA would operate the facility and split pool hours between RRISD swim teams and the community, the proposal stated.

But the city’s return on investment for the facility was not economically viable, according to a feasibility study funded in 2015 by the city, RRISD, the Avery family and the YMCA, the results of which were part of the March 3 presentation.

The study showed the project would cost about $25 million and require an annual operating subsidy of $650,000.

Missouri-based Counsilman Hunsaker, which designs and develops aquatic facilities and conducted the study, is compiling a final report and presentation. The city, RRISD and the YMCA must decide if they wish to move forward on the project, according to the presentation.

RRISD Superintendent Steve Flores said the district, the city and the YMCA are in discussions about the proposal.

“The opportunity to open an aquatics center is something that members of our community have been talking about for years, and our board of trustees is interested in working with our leadership and community partners to make the best decision for our all students,” Flores said.

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COMMENT
  1. I think that this story would be better and more valuable to the community if it contained the actual projections for revenue that the consultant actually provided to the City. It states a conclusion about viability of the facility as though the City Council has even met to discuss it. Unless I’m missing something the findings of the consultant have not even been formally presented to the Council and lawfully deliberated in a Council Meeting. It is therefore a little strange that it should be made to appear that the City of Round Rock has reached some kind of conclusion as to this matter that is of great public interest to so many people in the community. In fact, when I made a public information act request for the report (final or otherwise) just last month I was told that that there was no report by the city’s public information officer. The community has a right to know what those numbers are. Additionally while it was probably not your intent to do so, the article might lead some to believe that the facility would host just 8 or 9 meets a year. The article would be more helpful to the Citizens of Round Rock if it informed them of the actual findings of the reports the people paid for with their tax dollars. Please see if you can obtain the data the city received. They have to have it if they were able to provide a conclusion about it. If they don’t have it surely one of the other partners will. The actual data will tell the community the true economic impact that a swimming venue would bring to the businesses and taxpayers of Round Rock. Your paper provides a great service to this community. Thank you in advance for caring to look into this story further.

  2. Hi Kara. Thanks for the reply. It’s good information. Thanks to the school district for stepping up to put this out there. It would be great to see the full economic analysis that was contained in the study from which this powerpoint was derived. Maybe you could put a hyperlink to the document in the story. Hopefully the City Council will follow the school district’s lead and take the issue up at some time to consider, as a collective Council, how the roughly 3-5 million dollars of economic impact for the City of Round Rock compares to the economic impact of the roughly 20 million dollars worth of trail projects the city is currently working on or the city’s very successful sports complex. It seems like a pretty important issue. That’s a large amount of economic impact to forego without the City Council’s formal consideration. Over the life of the pool that equates to hundreds of millions of dollars for our local businesses. Thank you again and I appreciate the reply.

  3. I attended the March 3rd public workshop. While your statement about the $25 million and operating subsidy was correct in a way, this statement: “But the city’s return on investment for the facility was not economically viable…” is completely inaccurate and was not stated by a single person at the meeting. In fact, what was discussed was having Hunsaker delve deeper into the economic impact the facility will provide through the many events the facility could support (much more than 8-10 a year) by keeping our very large and growing local swim population in town to spend their money as well as bring in many more travelers to the meets. The $650,000 subsidy does not take that into account, and while on the surface the pool will cost more than it brings in, you are forgetting the much larger picture of how it will impact our “Sports Capital of Texas” as a whole, both financially and in quality of life. You also failed to mention that this figure could be split three ways between the city, RRISD and the YMCA.

    At the very least, a link to the original data should have been included in your article instead of as a reply to someone’s comment. You left out so many important details and have now given many in the community a negative perception of the proposal without them even knowing the actual details.

    I would recommend, in any case, if you are going to write a story on a meeting, you should attend the meeting. Had you done this, you would have seen our great community at work discussing a promising project with many community supporters acknowledging the great need for an indoor aquatics center in our city.

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