Jul 11, 2012 at 8:46 am
ST. CLOUD, MN (KNSI) – The wheels are in motion on the final project in a decade old city plan as the City of St. Cloud selected a partner to get started on building the long-anticipated community aquatic center.
Earlier this year, the city put out the call to area service groups, looking for a partner to help run the city-owned facility. Now the St. Cloud YMCA has stepped up with a bid to join forces on the project.
"The YMCA will be the partner that we've selected based on their application," Mayor Dave Kleis said. "Our goal now is to have a location and timeline in place to build an aquatic center by the end of the year."
Funds for the center will come from the half-cent sales tax increase approved by St. Cloud voters in 2004. About $10 million was earmarked for the project, while a feasibility study three years ago showed an indoor aquatic and community recreation center would likely cost upwards of $26.5 million.
There are a number of avenues the city may take in raising the requisite funds. The largest effort will be put forth by both sides of the newly formed partnership with the Y, but other partners could be added to the mix down the road.
"We are still not finished looking at other partners," Kleis said. "There has been a discussion about a regional project like we did with the library. That is a decision the area cities need to make individually and is a discussion we will continue when we get together later this month."
A few years ago the city conducted and feasibility study about the project, while even more recently the YMCA commissioned a study of where best to locate an aquatic center. That study included a market analysis. Both sides now will combine the findings to determine the best possible location. Once that is complete the project will be another hurdle closer to its long proposed completion date.
"The goal is still 2017 or earlier, that was in the original application we did," Kleis said. "That timeline will now be heavily based on looking at the funding sources to build the center."
When first approved amid a number of improvement projects for St. Cloud, Kleis said the aquatic center was always meant to be the last completed project, but by no means does that make it less important.
"It is significant for economic development," Kleis added. "When we talk to businesses, not only locating but expanding, one of the big things is the quality of life, livability. You want to not only have jobs for folks but you want people to want to live in the communities."
The facts that the center was originally voter approved, then again surfaced early this year as the top request in the spring survey, Kleis and city leaders will move forward with the belief the project is one the majority of the city is anxious to see finished.