It’s an open question: how to fund needed upgrades to the college’s Aquatic Center.
It would cost close to $1.4 million to update the Center to meet current standards, according to a feasibility study presented to the college in February 2013.
Steven Bloomberg, vice president for Community Development, said none of the recommended upgrades have been made.
OCCC hired the local architecture firm, Crafton Tull, to look into what it would take to upgrade the Center since the pool and much of its equipment is 25 years old.
In 2013, the college had been approached by Oklahoma City officials, asking that the Aquatic Center be a possible site for a Senior Center project, according to page one of the 28-page report titled, “Oklahoma City Community College Feasibility Study for Aquatic Center.”
“This report is prepared at the request of Oklahoma City Community College to address whether or not the building could be used as a part of the response to the City of Oklahoma City’s Request for Qualification for the Senior Center Projects.”
That would have allowed OCCC to take part in Oklahoma City’s MAPS 3 project. Bloomberg said that idea ended up being shelved for a number of reasons.
“We at one time had considered submitting a request for a proposal to become one of the senior health and wellness centers that were associated with the MAPS projects,” he said.
One of the reasons the college chose not to participate was the requirement that the city have a “controlling interest” in the facility, which is owned by OCCC, a state entity. “We decided not to do so for several reasons, but one of the primary reasons was that if the city funded that project … then you have a city who would have a controlling interest in a building owned by the state … .
“That was one of the circumstances that led us to say, ‘That doesn’t make a lot of sense for us to pursue because there’s a lot of legal ramifications from a state entity having a city interest, or city funds being put into a state entity.”
Bloomberg said, for the study, Crafton Tull subcontracted with the aquatic firm Counsilman Hunsaker.
He said Crafton Tull was chosen specifically because of their working relationship with Counsilman Hunsaker, a “preeminent authority on pools.”
“They built the pool at Georgia Tech that was used in the ‘96 Olympics,” he said.
“The last summer Olympics in London — Counsilman Hunsaker did the consulting on the pool there.”
OCCC paid Crafton Tull $10,800 for the analysis, Bloomberg said.
“[We] brought them in to ask the question, ‘What does it take to fix some of these systems?’ and they’ve come up with the figure [of $1,381,276].”
A number of upgrades and repairs were suggested, Bloomberg said, including repairing the pool shell and applying a Diamond Brite finish at a cost of $305,275. The report also recommended providing a pump, motor, starter, strainer, regenerative filter, flow meter, valves, piping and gauges at a cost of $120,000.
Bloomberg said OCCC has not yet taken any action toward making Counsilman Hunsaker’s recommended repairs because the college does not have the funding.
“At this point it’s cost,” he said. “Right now, we’re at a point where we’re saying ‘if these improvements are to be made, what’s the plan in order to get those done?’
“We have not chosen that plan of action and right now, from a funding perspective, the institution doesn’t have the funds presently to be able to do that.”
Bloomberg said a plan of action will have to be made before going further. He said he sees this as being a project that could take several years and may require finding funding sources outside of the college.
“As we move forward and as we look at what we’re going to do with the Aquatic Center with regard to this report, we’re going to [need] a plan of action that says ‘here’s how things could be funded.’ Clearly, I don’t think the best choice is trying to accomplish it all in a year.”
In the meantime, Bloomberg said, no one is at risk when using the Aquatic Center.
“There are no safety issues,” he said. “Nothing in there right now poses an inherent risk to swimmers, patrons, [or] staff members. The issue is that we just have a lot of equipment that operates in the Aquatic Center that is either at, or has exceeded, its useful lifespan.”
And, Bloomberg said, although Counsilman Hunsaker’s repair recommendations have not been made, OCCC officials have put money into the facility for other repairs and advancements.
“From a maintenance and repair standpoint, there have been things that we’ve done,” he said. “In about the last seven to eight years, we have put about $750,000 into the Aquatic Center.
“About five years ago, we replaced the central part of the roof in the Aquatic Center [along with] new skylights. That was about a half a million-dollar project.”
In addition, Bloomberg said, the college added large air circulating fans and worked on upgrading the filtration system about seven years ago.
Some $563,852 was spent on the pool bulkhead, the skylight and roof replacement, PVC lane markers, circulation fans in the natatorium, and the athlete bleacher replacement, according to information provided by Bloomberg.
Bloomberg said part of that money came from Section 13 Offset funds — money the college receives from the State Legislature for campus maintenance and construction that is set aside specifically for campuswide renovations and improvements.
The remainder came from “contingency requests to the institution from funds that are not necessarily allocated,” he said.
Bloomberg said the Aquatic Center also has several different sources of revenue that help offset the costs of routine maintenance.
“In the summertime, we have a very large recreation fitness program for kids so we run hundreds of children through our summer camps and recreation and fitness,” he said.
Some of the programs include Learn to Swim, Advanced Swimming, and OCCC’s Mako Shark Swim Team, Bloomberg said. Swim meets also bring in revenue, he said.
“We host numerous swim meets throughout the year. We host an event every December called the Elite Meet that brings in about 700 to 800 athletes from around the country. We host high school regional meets here. We’re the home swim facility for seven different high schools, [and] those high schools pay for lane rentals.”
Bloomberg said these are ways money is brought in to fund the facility.
He said OCCC students with a valid ID can use the pool at no charge.
“When you enroll here, our students have access to the Wellness Center. I want to make sure that our students are aware that [being] an OCCC student includes use of the gymnasium, the weight room, the Cardio Center [and] the Aquatic Center.”
For more information about the Aquatic Center, visit here.
The OCCC Aquatic Center feasibility study can be viewed at pioneer.occc.edu.