Swim team members at Bob Jones and James Clemens high schools – and competitive swimmers across the Madison community – may soon have more elbow room in the swimming pool.
The Madison school board on Tuesday approved a memorandum of intent with the City of Madison for a proposed recreational facility that would include a new pool. Superintendent Dee Fowler assured the board that the memorandum brings with it no contractual obligation, but moves the district closer to one.
The Madison City Council approved a similar measure last month, along with a memo of understanding with Fieldhouse LLC, the Nashville-based firm chosen to build and help manage the recreation center.
The target date for a binding agreement between the board and the city is Oct. 1.
The plan is for the two entities to develop an agreement for the planning, design, construction, maintenance and operation of the facility, which, besides an indoor pool, would also include multiple basketball and volleyball courts and a number of outdoor sports fields. The facility would be built next to the Madison football stadium on Celtic Drive.
The school district currently owns that property, Fowler said, but would convey the property to the city for the project upon execution of a construction contract between the city and the builders. The district would also put up $3 million, a portion of the BRAC funding it received last summer, to help build the facility.
“We were given three years to use the BRAC funds, and one year is up,” Fowler said. “We have two years left to spend that money.”
According to the memorandum, the $3 million covers what it would cost the school district to build a natatorium, or indoor swim facility, of its own.
“The board will take the lead in the design of the interior portion of the natatorium within the recreational building, and the facilities within the recreational building such as locker rooms directly supporting the function of the natatorium,” the memo states.
The city will collaborate with the board on the overall design and look of the entire facility.
During the high school swim season, the Bob Jones and James Clemens teams would have priority scheduling for their practices and competitions over the city recreational teams.
The new pool is a long time coming for the school and recreational swim teams, who have been sharing the pool at Dublin Park. Parents aired their frustrations at a city council meeting last month, saying they were tired of waiting for a new pool.
At Tuesday’s meeting, several swim parents thanked the board for its work.
“I appreciate all of the efforts by the board, and the swim community is out there to support it,” said Laurie Messer, a parent and referee with the Madison Swimming Association.