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The newly-formed Artesia Aquatic Center Foundation (AACF) and the City of Artesia are in the process of developing a partnership to build a community recreational pool by May 2019.

The effort began in earnest a year ago in response to community outcry after the closure of the Artesia High School Natatorium in 2013. The AACF was formed in June 2017 by the private sector to identify community swimming pool needs, begin project development, and establish a public-private partnership with the City of Artesia and others that would fast-track the project.

Plans for the Artesia Aquatic Center involve an outdoor recreational pool, indoor lane pool, and a therapy pool. The AACF has engaged Huitt-Zollars for architectural services and Jaynes Corporation as the general contractor. The proposed location for the center is on Bowman Drive southwest of Park Junior High School. Negotiations are currently underway for land acquisition. The AACF says its first priority is construction of the outdoor recreational pool.

“The aquatic center likely will be built in two or three phases, dependent on our fundraising. We hope to raise enough money to build all components of the plan by the fall of 2019,” said Sandra Borges, president of the AACF. “Our ultimate goal is to pave the path for a complex that will serve a variety of our community’s needs, from playtime to swim lessons, team training, rehabilitation, and overall health and fitness.”

The AACF’s goal is to bring together partners such as the city, Artesia Public Schools and Artesia General Hospital for the development of the complex. The foundation will be able to donate land, design and project management, and will also spearhead a fundraising campaign that will bring private dollars to the project.

The Artesia City Council will consider approval of a Memorandum of Understanding between the city and the AACF at its Tuesday, Jan. 23, meeting that would allow the project to move forward. Once the agreement is in place, the AACF will begin a fundraising campaign to ensure at least the recreational pool will be open for swimming by the target date of May 2019.

Artesia Mayor Phillip Burch has been working with the AACF to get the pool effort underway.

“Growth of a community is dependent on many factors, including job and housing availability; basic infrastructure; education facilities; entertainment, dining and shopping choices; as well as cultural and recreational facilities,” said Burch. “As an elected official, I can tell you that Artesians aren’t bashful about asking why we don’t have certain amenities.

“The Artesia Aquatic Center project is an opportunity to provide our community with a much-needed quality of life facility. The Center will benefit children, adults and seniors in all of North Eddy County. This is one community growth effort that all citizens should join forces to accomplish.”

Anyone wishing to express support for the effort may attend the upcoming city council meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 23, at City Hall.