Could McKinney finally be getting an aquatic facility?
It’s been discussed for over a dozen years. Bond elections have long since been passed and McKinney’s residents have seen neighboring cities build water parks, indoor pools and big, shiny recreation centers.
Is it finally McKinney’s turn? It just might be.
On Wednesday afternoon, the McKinney City Council held a joint meeting with the leadership of the McKinney Community Development Corporation. On their agenda was a presentation of potential plans for a $32 million aquatic facility that could be completed and open by 2016.
At the council’s strategic planning retreat in January, the council instructed the MCDC to take over the long-delayed planning process for the aquatic center project. The plans were initially discussed in 2000 when McKinney successfully passed a bond election for funding of an aquatic center, but the planning process has never been as formalized as it is now.
During the meeting on Wednesday, MCDC presented the council a compressive recommendation and plan for a 79,000-square-foot recreation center and aquatic facility that would also feature an outdoor leisure pool with approximately 9,000-square-feet of water surface area. The proposed site for the recreation center and aquatic facility would be at Gabe Nesbitt Park. The pictures above (from the MCDC presentation) show what McKinney’s aquatic center could look like.
MCDC Board President George Fuller urged the council to think big and build a first-class facility in McKinney. The council will need to approve final plans once the planning process reaches that point, but as it stands now, MCDC will be funding the project using the remaining bond money, its own operating funds and debt service.
The proposed plans include a 24,000-square-foot indoor aquatic center featuring a 25-yard by 25-meter pool that would allow for 11 lanes for competitive swimming. The plans also include a 6,000-square-foot indoor leisure pool with a current channel.
The building would also house a 14,000-square-foot fitness center, with cardio and weight training areas and group exercise rooms, where fitness classes would be held. The building would also have a birthday room, classrooms, locker rooms, offices, and child care areas.
Runners, basketball players and sport enthusiasts of all kinds would have their own areas as well. The plans call for a 17,000-square-foot gymnasium with indoor basketball courts that could be utilized for other sports as well. Above the basketball courts would be a thee-lane elevated track.
When the project was first given to MCDC, council provided one important condition: the aquatic center must break even, not operate at a loss. Fuller assured the council that the provided plans would ensure a balanced budget for the aquatic center.
According to the presentation, MCDC said this will be achieved by charging daily rates of $7 for adults (18 and over) and $5 for children (age 3-17) for McKinney residents. Younger children would receive free admission. Non-resident adults would pay $10 per day and non-resident children would pay $8.
Annual passes would also be available for $300 for individual McKinney residents. McKinney families would be able to purchase annual passes for $500. The annual rate would be $250 for McKinney senior citizens.
For non-residents, annual passes would be $400 for individuals, $650 for families and $300 senior citizens.
In the presentation, MCDC told council that its members visited many aquatic facilities in neighboring cities to review the operations and interview staff members. Fuller said that they visited NRH Centre and NRH2O in North Richland Hills, Keller Pointe in Keller, Don Rodenbaugh Natatorium in Allen, Tom Muehlenbeck Center, Oak Point Recreation Center and Jack Carter Pool in Plano, Frisco Athletic Center, and Denton Waterworks and Natatorium.
Fuller told the council during his tour of the surrounding cities he realized that McKinney is the only city of its size that does not have its own aquatic facility. Councilwoman Geralyn Kever said that the lack of an aquatic center in McKinney is a “glaring omission.”
“It’s overdue and the timing is right,” Kever said.
Councilman Don Day shared Kever’s enthusiasm for the project, telling his fellow council members “it’s time for us to get serious about this project.”
The council members did not take any official action the meeting but did task MCDC with beginning a more specific design and bid process and then providing the council with more information when it becomes available.