Building an aquatic center; CVRAC Board of Directors asks Gila County to come on board

Andrea Justice/Arizona Silver Belt The Cobre Valley Regional Aquatic Center Board of Directors present Sen. Frank Pratt, district 8, with a copper splash for his efforts in the AZ Legislature. Pictured from left to right: Cathy Melvin, Gila County, Solangel Leyva, Gila Community College, Joe Heatherly, Town of Miami, Leitha Griffin, Gila Community College, Sherry Dorathy, Miami Unified School District, Sen. Frank Pratt, Evelyn Vargas, CVRMC, Bryan Seppala, Resolution Copper, Jerry Jennex, Globe Unified School District, and Tory Satter, 3:18 Ministries. (Not pictured Paul Jepson, City of Globe, and Stan Gibson, former mayor of Globe and business owner.)

The Cobre Valley Regional Aquatic Center intends on revitalizing this community with water. Their endgame consists of a destination aquatic center that will promote health, recreation, and economic growth. The CVRAC Board of Directors touched on each of these ideas as they presented their four-year-old project to the Gila County Board of Supervisors on July 30. They swam in with a purpose of educating to secure funding for yearly maintenance as part of the groups phase I agenda. 

This proposed aquatic center consists of more than a run of the mill summer watering hole. It’s what Evelyn Vargas considers “an investment not a cost,” and what Linda Oddonetto stated would vastly “improve the quality of life for our residents.” It’s also what CCYS Piranha Swim Coach Barry Swank described as “a legacy” for this community.

Time spent in

AZ Legislature

Senator Frank Pratt, Dist. 8, was in attendance for the presentation. The CVRAC Board took a moment to honor Sen. Pratt with a copper splash for his work in the AZ State Legislature in support of the planned aquatic center.

Back in January, Senate Bill #1257 was submitted to the Arizona legislature. The intention of this Bill was to protect the tax payer while presenting them with the vote for or against the aquatic center. The Bill passed in the Senate with a vote of 26 – 4. According to CVRAC Chairman Evelyn Vargas the Bill moved on to the House of Representatives where it was kept on Speaker of the House - Russell “Rusty” Bower’s desk until time had expired, subsequently killing the Bill.

Vargas states that “new life was brought to the initiative with some investigative work.” After studying a neighboring community that operates a similar aquatic center it’s apparent what kind of changes a facility like this could have in the Globe-Miami community.

Funding

Plainly stated, The CVRAC Board of Directors is working to complete two phases before breaking ground. Phase I, secure maintenance and operations funds ($350,000 yearly) and phase II raise the supposed $6 million to build. A rough draft for securing funds in phase I would consist of the Town of Miami putting up $65,000 (which is what they currently spend to maintain the aging Hostetler Pool), the City of Globe with help from Freeport McMoRan putting in $125,000, and Gila County adding the remaining $135,000. Phase II’s proposed $6 million isn’t the main road block in this project. According to Vargas, “We have a strategic plan to get the $6 million.” She cited brick sales, benefactor walls, and naming rights as a few resourceful ways to raise the money. “We will turn every stone,” said Vargas.

Need

“Can our community afford to wait?” asked Vargas, referring to the area’s need for a pool. “Our children aren’t getting swim lessons, our young Olympians never have a chance to compete, and students are graduating high school without knowing how to swim.”

It was April 2014 when the City of Globe announced that the Globe Community Center pool was closed indefinitely due to structural issue. Since then, dedicated swimmers like the 70 plus young people that joined the CCYS Piranha Swim Team this year have had to rely on Miami’s Hostetler pool for practice and meets, sometimes canceling due to maintenance issues with the Miami pool. Coach Swank spoke of the passionate swimmers he coached and how sad it is not to “be able to provide facilities for these young people.”

Globe Mayor Al Gameros addressed the standing room only crowd, “For Globe we are dealing with a 50-year-old pool. If we are going to put hundreds of thousands of dollars into a facility, we have to make sure it’s going to last.” Gameros mentioned that fixing the Community Center pool may be too costly and while “the Miami pool is struggling to stay open” something needs to be done now. “If we don’t do something that gives our kids something to do, we are all going to pay for it,” said Gameros.

Building a healthy community

For Monica Allen, who teaches a weekly water aerobics class at Hostetler Pool, an aquatic center equals health and wellness for her community. “I see the benefits of water aerobics,” said Allen. Calling it a miracle cure for issues like depression and obesity, Allen encouraged everyone to give it a try. “Doctors give prescriptions for patients to come to water aerobics because they understand the benefits.”

Ryan Brossart, director of physical therapy at Cobre Valley Regional Medical Center, states that aquatic therapy is an ultimate goal for positive patient results. “I can make a 300 lbs. person 150 lbs. in waist high water, “ said Brossart. “A gravity lessoned environment can have a huge impact on mobility and strength training.”

Economic Growth

What will a multi-use aquatic center do for this community? According to Economic Development Director Linda Oddonetto, families will come to the area for swim meets. They will stay in our hotels and eat at our restaurants. Those looking to escape the heat will travel to our facility and spend money in our area.

Recreational Coordinator for the Town of Florence was also in attendance to speak about what an aquatic center has done for their community. “I’ve seen a drastic change in our town,” said Erasmo Mendivil. “We average 350 people a day.” He went on to say that their aquatic center was a great investment in their community and works to serve surrounding communities as well. “Kids are going to want to be there and families are going to want to be there.”

Advertisement

More In Front Page