Local government

Bill to boost Ontario pool gets hearing in Salem

ONTARIO — Legislators are considering helping fund the construction of an outdoor pool, tennis courts, gymnasium and skate park in Ontario.

House Bill 2410, introduced by state Rep. Mark Owens, R-Crane, was considered at a public hearing before the House Committee on Emergency Management, General Government and Veterans on Tuesday, Feb. 14. The legislation would allocate $4.5 million to the Ontario Recreation District for the Ontario Community Recreation Center. Andrew Maeda, district executive director, said in December that to begin renovation of the aquatic center, the district needed $2.4 million in hand to start the bidding process. The total price for the project is $6.4 million. 

The renovation is in the second phase of the district’s six-phase plan for the downtown Ontario site. 

“It is great news that we were even given a hearing and we are hoping to keep the bill alive through the committee, House, and Senate,” Maeda said. “But we need community support.” 

The Eastern Oregon Border Board – the public body established to grow the economy – voted Monday, Feb. 6, to the legislation providing the funding. However, Maeda, who serves on the border board, recused himself from the vote because of his potential conflict of interest. 

Maeda said the district as of December had received roughly $50,000 in donations from local businesses. Voters formed the Ontario Recreation District as a taxing district in 2018, with a tax levy of 55 cents per $1,000 assessed property value. The district is a separate entity from the City of Ontario. 

Maeda said one of the district’s primary focuses had been the pool project, which the organization took over in 2019 once they hired staff and officially established the district. 

The district began developing plans to take down the Aquatic Center building in Lions Park and leave the pool for outdoor use in 2020. 

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