If all goes according to plan, Meridian will get is first indoor aquatic center by 2020.
The Treasure Valley Family YMCA is in the beginning stretch of a fundraiser that would pay for the aquatic center at the South Meridian Family YMCA, 5155 S. Hillsdale Ln., Meridian.
“We’re just getting started,” said David Duro, president and CEO of Treasure Valley Family YMCA.
The project is estimated to cost $10 million. As of Tuesday, the YMCA had about $800,000 raised, with several other donations promised, but not yet collected or counted, Duro said.
“I would love to say (fundraising will take) a week,” Duro said. “It’s really hard to pin down a timeline. One thing is for sure: we won’t start building until we’re confident we can pay for it.”
Staff hope to finish fundraising by spring 2019, beginning construction shortly after and finishing the building by summer 2020.
The 60,000-square-foot South Meridian Family YMCA opened in May with a youth development center, fitness areas, a large indoor family play structure, gathering space, gyms and classrooms.
In 2016, the Western Ada Recreation District ran a $20 million bond that would have paid for the aquatic center. The bond failed, getting approval of 51 percent of voters — bonds in Idaho must have at least 66.7 percent of the vote to be approved.
The bond would have also paid for an aquatic center in north Meridian. The YMCA planned to fundraise for and build a YMCA location around the north Meridian aquatic center after it was built, Duro said.
Duro said Meridian is one of the biggest communities in the country that doesn’t have an indoor aquatic center.
Once the pool is built, he said it will serve a ”truly diverse group of people,” including families, the city’s aging population and competitive swimmers.
Jason Warr, activities director for the West Ada School District, said the south Meridian pool would create more opportunities for the district’s swim teams to practice and compete.
“I’d be lying to you if I said it wouldn’t make it easier access for our kids to have another pool,” said Warr.
The 2017-2018 school year was the first year swimming was included as a sanctioned sport by the Idaho High School Activities Association. Before that, high school swimming was a club sport.
Idaho swimming has been a big club sport for a long time, said Tyler Maryon, swim coach at Mountain View High School, in an interview in August.
The promotion gives swimmers a wider range of opportunities, and makes things more competitive, said Maryon. This year there were around 1,300 students in Idaho that competed, according to Julie Hammons, assistant director of the Idaho High School Activities Association. That’s compared to the previous year where around 1,180 students competed.
There were about 420 students in the Treasure Valley’s district swim meet this year. Of those, more than half — around 260 — were from West Ada schools, according to Warr. He said that number will likely continue to rise as more students learn about the sport.
Rocky Mountain, Eagle and Centennial high schools all practice at the West Boise YMCA.
Meridian and Mountain View high schools practice at the outdoor Meridian Swimming Pool. Warr said while it gets chilly practicing in the outdoor pool toward the end of the swim season in October, there isn’t enough room for all West Ada high schools to practice at the West Boise YMCA.
“It would be hard for them to find time to practice,” said Warr.
Warr said because the district has so many teams, some schools would have to practice at odd times, like late at night or early in the morning.
Duro said the aquatic center will also provide a safe place for families to swim.
Idaho has the second-highest rate of canal deaths for children aged 1 to 5 in the country, according to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.
Patty Bowen is the Meridian Press reporter. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.