City to host groundbreaking for pool; an update on financing

LIMA —The city of Lima is set to reach a milestone in its quest to bring the community an aquatic park.

The city will break ground in a ceremony Feb. 2 at the site of the Lima Community Aquatic Park at 1005 E. Elm St.

“We have been having these conversations for a number of years,” Lima Schools superintendent Jill Ackerman said. “To be at this point in the project is very exciting. I think the work has come full circle.”

The school district, like a number of community organizations such as the Lima Family YMCA, started out as a participant in developing plans for the center, which will include an indoor pool and an outdoor pool, but it evolved into a partner in the process.

And it has been for the better.

“As we were rewarded federal ESSER dollars, we were able to use some of that capital funding to purchase the dome for the indoor pool,” Ackerman said. “That will give us the ability to serve the kids during the school year at the pool.”

The federal grant money, which is designated for use in American public schools, covered the about $2.5 million contract for the enclosure.

“That was written into the grant application and approved by the state so we got that approval before the commitments were ever made,” Ackerman added. “But it is an acceptable use of funding because it circles back to helping our students and everything is obviously tied to COVID. We want to promote healthy lifestyles and water safety and we want to be able to teach our kids how to swim.”

The Lima News previously reported that the school district also split the initial cost with the city and the state, matching the latter’s $2.4 million to go with the $4 million from the city’s general fund.

The school district, however, will only be covering most of the $2.72 million cost of the enclosure, while the city will foot a bill from its Better Together fund of about $6.08 million to go with $2.4 million in grant money from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to go toward the construction of the pools.

Although The Lima News previously reported that the YMCA was a partner in the planning and would play a role in the management, upkeep and staffing of the pool with the school district and the city, the YMCA instead chose to serve in a different role.

“The project started out with the city, the schools and the YMCA working on the planning and design phases of the project,” public works director Kirk Niemeyer said. “The city and the Y considered an MOU with the Y being future management, but they elected to instead be a vendor in that situation.”

However, Niemeyer said the help the Y provided was invaluable.

“The Y was a huge part of the planning and design and we ended up with a high-quality facility,” he said. “The Y has managed an indoor pool for the community for 60 years so they know the ins and outs of staffing it. The city managed a pool for many years that was seasonal, but the Y does it year-round so they have a huge insight on staffing and how to keep costs in check.”

And that insight will be put to use considering the city will be getting the best of both worlds of an outdoor facility like the old Schoonover Pool and an indoor pool with a retractable enclosure.

The enclosure will enable the school to host meets as its home facility and even potentially add a swim program for middle school students.

“We want to be able to have opportunities to expand swimming programs in the whole county,” Ackerman said. “We don’t have a middle school swim team just because we don’t have the space to do that.”

The Lima swim team will even be present at the groundbreaking, which will also feature refreshments.

“I would encourage people to come out and take a look,” Ackerman said. “We’ve had a lot of people involved in the process and a lot of community input so it’d be great to see people out that day to celebrate.”

There will also be new videos and renderings on display.

Construction on the facility is scheduled to last until April 2025.

The groundbreaking will begin at 11 a.m.

Reach Jacob Espinosa at 567-242-0399.