Seneca Valley officials mull aquatic center plans

September 13, 2018 Cranberry Breaking News

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JACKSON TWP — Seneca Valley School District officials are considering two options for a proposed aquatic center.

School board and community members last week heard from Matt Hansen, an IKM architect who will be working on the new aquatic center to be put near the football field at the Seneca Valley campus.

“I've worked on this project for the last eight years,” said Superintendent Tracy Vitale before introducing Hansen. “The district believes in teaching life skills and a swimming program is part of that.”

Hansen presented two options for the new swimming pool. The first option is a smaller, less expensive swimming area. It has all the features of a basic natatorium, officials said.

Option two was preferred by many audience members and school officials. It included more locker room, viewing and office space, a basement storage area and a lobby that could also serve as a classroom. The cost for the second option is about $2 million more than the first.

“We want this project to grow the program from an academic perspective and an athletic perspective,” Hansen said. “All the school district's spaces should be learning spaces.”

District Athletic Director Heather Lewis said her biggest hope for the project's success is for students to learn a “valuable life-saving skill” and for everyone to take advantage of the center, “for lessons, fun and fitness.”

“This new aquatics center is a facility that will be maximized by teachers during the instructional day, by coaches during after-school activities and by the community in programmatic efforts for all residents,” Lewis said.

One main feature of Hansen's concept was a gate with movable “garage-like” doors that could turn into awnings to separate or join the athletic facilities around the campus.

Lewis also acknowledged IKM's work on increasing the number of lanes, providing a separate diving venue and increasing seating and deck space.

“This group has listened to the steering committee and have put together a facility representative of our district's commitment to excellence academically, athletically and socially,” she said.

Hansen said the project's timeline would include design development to be announced in November and construction documents to be drawn in December. His schedule also accounted for potential bidding to take place in April with an anticipated construction date to begin in June and go through sometime in 2020.

“I am impressed by the work done,” Vitale said.

Lewis said the “commitment in building this facility reinforces the value our district has on extracurricular activities.”

“Our district is blessed to have a committed parents' group involved with our aquatics program not only at school but also in the community,” she added. “Their engagement in this process has been exactly as I expected — focused and visionary. I anticipate a growth in participation numbers in our varsity swimming and diving program.”

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