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What Does a $42 Million Aquatic Center Look Like?

The YMCA of Austin has made quite a splash with proposals for a massive pool and aquatics center along the shores of Lady Bird Lake. But their pitch for city investment in the proposal appears to be treading water.

The issue was highlighted after Mayor Lee Leffingwell addressed a report in The Austin Chronicle discussing the YMCA’s wishes to build on the site of the former Town Lake Animal Center, currently run by Austin Pets Alive as an adoption center.

Leffingwell wrote the following on his blog:

For the record, while I am familiar with the proposal for the aquatic center and support the concept of exploring public-private partnerships like this, there is not yet a formal proposal before Council. These kinds of partnerships allow the city to expand and improve public park assets without the high costs of operating and maintaining the facilities, but the details must be studied to ensure public access and benefit. There are other factors that must be considered, such as capital costs.

The Statesman reported the center could cost as much as $42 million and that the YMCA was looking for a sizable contribution from the city, some $25 million. It would take the form of an item in a bond election to go before voters. The Statesman has since editorialized against the decision, citing other potential bond projects like urban rail and a medical school. It looks like there’s little political support for city funding of the project at this point (if there ever was).

That said, architectural renderings of the Austin Aquatic Center are online, as drafted by RUNA Workshop. While there may be disagreement over where the center would be built and how it would be funded, there’s likely little argument over the grand scale and detail of these renderings, embedded above and available here.    

Wells has been a part of KUT News since 2012, when he was hired as the station's first online reporter. He's currently the social media host and producer for Texas Standard, KUT's flagship news program. In between those gigs, he served as online editor for KUT, covering news in Austin, Central Texas and beyond.
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