In 1967, a levy was proposed to build an outdoor swimming pool at Hall Park. It failed by 34 votes. Last Tuesday, 32 years later, the recreation levy passed by a margin of 1308-344, ensuring the construction of an indoor/outdoor aquatic facility. "It's great - obviously by the wide margin, a lot of people wanted it," said Ron Rimbert, co-chair of the Recreation Levy Committee.
"It will be nice to have a whole community center for everyone in Oberlin," said College President Nancy Dye. Adding that the aquatic center may make Oberlin a more attractive school for potential employees, she said, "It will enhance the quality of life for people who work here and their families,"
Recreation Levy 17 will generate 1.7 million dollars for the building of the aquatic facility through a two percent income tax over the next five years. This, combined with local philanthropist Eric Nord's pledge of $2 million and Oberlin College's pledge of $500,000, nearly equals the amount of money needed to construct the facility.
"There is still another half million to be raised by the Metro Parks for the aquatic facility," said Sigrid Boe, co-chair of the Recreation Levy Committee. According to Boe, Metro Parks will "start the design now and the best estimate is that it might be built and usable by 2002."
For 30 years community members have been pushing for a pool. Alongside this push, interest developed in a multi-purpose gymnasium. In 1988, a committee proposed that a swimming facility and multi-purpose gymnasium be built at the Depot Park area. Although funding for the aquatic facility is all but in the bag, no funding has been raised for the gym and recreation center.
Around three years ago a survey was sent out to Oberlin citizens asking them what the number one need in the community was. The results from the survey reflected interest in a pool and a recreation center. There is debate, however, as to which option the survey indicated more demand for. The survey asked whether community members preferred an outdoor swimming pool, an indoor pool, or a multi-purpose gym and recreation center. According to city council member Fran Baumann, the combined support for an outdoor and indoor pool outweighed the enthusiasm for the third choice. However, when the options of an outdoor and indoor swimming pool were separate, the multi-purpose gym and recreation center received more support.
According to city council member Calvin Waite, "the pool was not at the top of the list, the recreation center was at the top of the list. People were more concerned with having a facility where kids could go after school and play ball because there is really no place for them to go."
"There was a recommendation by the Recreation Commission for a multi-purpose facility," said Baumann. However, before the city council could accept or reject the recommendation, Eric Nord told the Lorain County Metro Parks Service that he "would be willing to raise up to $2 million, if they would find enough interest in the southwestern quadrant of Lorain County in an aquatic facility to go forward."
"When we got 2 million from Nord and 500,000 from the College specified for an aquatic facility, the city administration and we [the city council] agreed with them that at that point with this feed money, we'd move through with the aquatic center," said city council member Phil Verda.
"Metro Parks talked to all the various townships in the area. They wanted to build it somewhere in the area because of a lack of facilities in the area. Oberlin was chosen because we had an option on the [77 acres]," said Baumann.
With the passing of the levy, there is money for the aquatic facility. The question still remains, however, as to how funds will be raised to build a multi-purpose gym and recreation center, including an indoor track, basketball courts, and handball courts. "It's something a lot of people still want," said Rimbert. "We need to form a committee to start raising money."
Copyright © 1999, The Oberlin Review.
Volume 128, Number 8, November 5, 1999
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