River Cities

New Miami Springs aquatic facility moves closer to reality

If there was any doubt that Miami Springs was getting a new Aquatic Center before last Monday, it went away when the council voted 5-0 at their regular meeting to approve the design concept. The consulting firm Bermello Ajamil & Partners (B&A) was given the go-ahead with the design/bidding process, and if all goes right, groundbreaking will take place in April 2015.

There was a spattering of complaints at the meeting that there will be no competitive element to the new pool, but as Councilman Billy Bain so clearly stated: “When people say they want a competition pool, then why have we not seen a group fighting for a competition pool, yet we are being put in a position to defend ourselves?”

The only thing that could stop the pool process now is money. The council has made it very clear that a maximum $5 million will be spent on the project that includes a hybrid pool, two one-story buildings, shade areas, a concession stand, and landscaping surrounding the entire Aquatic Center.

It is now up to Willie Bermello, who went into detail on the project at Monday’s meeting, and his team to come through with a design concept that will allow the right contractor to come in at under the $5 million line in the sand.

“We feel comfortable that the project will come in under $5 million, as we are being very conservative with the contractor mark-ups,” Bermello said on Monday. “We are planning an energy-efficient facility that will be easy to control. We also want this to be enough of a ‘revenue gainer’ for it not to be a drain on the taxpayers. This is a fiscally sound plan and the right thing to do.”

In addition to the gate revenue at the pool, there will be a “multi-purpose” room for rent, cabanas surrounding the pool for individuals or families to reserve on a daily basis, and pool rentals.

“For us not to look at the return of revenue is wrong. This pool can generate enough revenue for us to be able to do future programs,” said Councilman Michael Windrem. “We don’t want another facility that we are going to have to subsidize.”

As projected by B&A at about $5 million, the Aquatic Center project includes a 6,000-square-foot pool (the current pool is over 9,000 square feet) with four lanes for swimming laps in the middle, a shallow area for children with “wet play features” on one side and a “deep” end with a giant slide on the other side.

The pool will be placed at the north end of the parking lot and there will be 199 parking spaces between the Aquatic Center and the Community Center. A 5,000-square-foot “pool building” will be constructed south of the pool and a 4,600-square-foot multi-purpose/concessions building will go up west of the pool. Landscaping surrounding the facility will protect the neighborhood from sight and sound.

An award to a contractor is expected by December of this year and it will take another three months for all the documents and permits to be completed. If things go as planned, right about election time next year (April 7), the groundbreaking ceremony should take place.