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Maize tables proposed aquatic center in light of nearby Goddard project

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Wednesday, April 30, 2014, at 7:11 p.m.
  • Updated Tuesday, June 10, 2014, at 6:40 a.m.

The Maize school district’s preliminary proposal for a $10 million aquatic center is off the table, officials said, in part because nearby Goddard is moving forward with plans for an Olympic-quality natatorium complex.

The Goddard City Council voted last week to approve the first phase of a $130 million destination athletics-hotel-restaurant-retail project along West Kellogg. That project includes a 60,000-square-foot competitive swimming complex that would be operated by the International Swimming Hall of Fame.

The Goddard project “does take away potential ability to generate revenue” that would help fund the operation of a pool complex in Maize, said Doug Powers, superintendent of Maize schools.

Earlier this year, a group advising Maize schools on a potential bond issue named an aquatic center among its top priorities for athletic improvements in the district. The group envisioned a 50-meter-by-25-yard pool and elevated seating for 750, similar to one at Hummer Sports Park in Topeka.

Currently, Maize’s high school swim teams practice at the Northwest YMCA, near 135th Street West and 21st Street.

Powers said this week that the Goddard project, combined with shrinking budgets for school operating expenses, means plans for a Maize pool complex are on indefinite hold.

“The board’s been very insightful and up front about their concern,” Powers said. “Currently we’re having trouble meeting our budgets, so how do we justify spending more money out of our operating budget?

“Add to that … not being able to generate the revenue we thought we might generate, and then it kind of seals the deal.”

Powers, who swims regularly, said he hopes the Goddard project moves forward as planned. Eventually, he said, it might be another option for swim practices or meets for the Maize teams.

“Speaking as a swimmer, having more water time on the west side, no matter who owns it, is going to be a good thing for the swimmers on the west side,” he said.

Reach Suzanne Perez Tobias at 316-268-6567 or stobias@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @suzannetobias.

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