Plans advance to turn Ontario pool into outdoor facility, fundraising next

A rendering by Design West Architects envisions swimmers enjoying a summer day at the Ontario pool. (Submitted artwork)

ONTARIO – The drive to raise an estimated $2.5 million is underway to fund construction of a new outdoor swimming pool in downtown Ontario.

The Ontario Recreation District recently unveiled a sketch of what the new pool would look like.

The seasonal pool would replace the long-shuttered indoor pool at Lions Park on Southwest Fourth Avenue.

When anyone will be able to dive in isn’t certain.

Andrew Maeda, recreation district executive director, said designs are still in the works and there is the need to raise money. No target date has been set for when the new pool would open.

The effort got a start on Saturday, Dec. 4, when the recreation district hosted an unveiling party to show off the new design.

Maeda said district officials got “a lot of really good feedback” about the design.

The project is estimated to cost $3.5 million. Maeda said the recreation district has been setting aside roughly half its yearly property tax collections to cover the cost, with about $1 million now saved for the pool project.

The recreation district is considering seeking a ballot measure to increase Ontario’s city motel tax. The city now charges 9% and Maeda said a measure would seek to move that to 10% and that one proposal would split the increased tax collections, with 75% going to the recreation district to help fund the pool and 25% going to the Malheur County Fairgrounds.

Maeda said the room tax increase was suggested to the recreation district by Ontario City Councilors John Kirby and Ken Hart.

Maeda said the recreation district plans to soon start approaching local businesses for donations and then foundations for grants.

The work is being guided by a volunteer Pool Committee that includes Maeda, Bob Boyd, Lisa. Reeser, Shawna Peterson, Andrew Zugner, Vanessa Gomez and Peggy Hawkins.

The recreation district is a separate government entity from the city of Ontario, created by voters in 2018. Besides managing the pool property, the district provides recreation programs.

An architect’s rendering from Design West Architects envisions the proposed new Ontario swimming pool. (Submitted artwork)

NEWS TIP? Contact Editor Les Zaitz by email: [email protected].

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