54.3 F
Sunday, May 19, 2024

Schenectady to Construct New Aquatic Center in Capital Region


SCHENECTADY — After years ⁣of anticipation, the much-discussed aquatic ‍center is‌ finally ​making its‌ return to ⁣the Electric City. The project​ is‌ set to ‌break ground next year, marking the end​ of a decade-long search for a suitable location.

The decision was ​made possible after Schenectady‌ County lawmakers approved a partnership with ⁢the Adirondack Aquatic ‍Center and SUNY Schenectady on Tuesday. The facility‌ will be built⁢ on a county-owned plot of ⁣land between State Street and Erie Boulevard, conveniently located ⁤near the ​community ⁤college campus.

As per ⁣the agreement, all three parties will contribute financially to the project. The State University of New York will cover‌ half of the estimated $41.7 million cost for⁢ the facility, which will feature an ⁢NCAA-compliant eight-lane pool and diving ‌well, an instruction‌ pool, a ⁤therapy pool, and seating for at least 1,200 spectators.

The ⁢project will also include seating ‍for up to‍ 600 athletes, locker rooms, restrooms and showers, multi-purpose instructional areas, and​ concession space.

The Adirondack⁢ Aquatic ⁢Center⁣ will contribute 90% of the $21.5 million it has raised ‌since its ⁤inception over a decade‍ ago. This includes‌ $5 million from the federal government, $5.1 million from the state, and $6.4 million in private donations.

The remaining 10% of funds raised ​by the aquatic center will be allocated to‍ a start-up operational fund of up to⁤ $2 million. The Adirondack Aquatic Center​ will also continue to fundraise for the project, which is expected‍ to break ground next year ⁢and open its⁤ doors ​in 2027.

Schenectady County‌ will contribute $5 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding towards the ⁢project and will cover any of ⁢the remaining 50% balance not covered‌ by SUNY or the‌ aquatic⁣ center​ funding, according to Christopher ‌Gardner, ⁣the county attorney.

The final cost of the project ‍is yet to be determined. The $41.7 million estimate was completed late last year when the project was ‌expected‍ to ⁤open at the ViaPort shopping mall in Rotterdam. This estimate does not include the cost ⁢of constructing a parking deck that will accommodate around 300 parking spots, Gardner⁣ said.

The county is also seeking additional‌ state funding through the NY SWIMS program, a $150 million grant initiative included in this year’s state budget that aims to expand municipal pools in​ underserved communities.

SUNY Schenectady will own the facility, which will be ‌constructed⁣ on a block between⁢ State, ‍South Church,‍ South Ferry, and Fuller streets, ⁢adjacent to the college’s dormitory and just a short walk from a CDTA-owned transit hub on State ⁣Street.

“This ⁢will be a championship swim facility,⁣ attracting thousands⁣ of visitors each year, boosting our economy with sales tax⁣ revenue and bed tax revenue, and most importantly, enhancing the stature of SUNY​ Schenectady while providing a ​valuable resource to ⁤our ​community by teaching all of our residents to swim,”⁤ Gardner said. “The project will also enhance the visibility of the college and ‌provide a direct connection to our‍ entire ⁣community — particularly our youth — and should have a very⁣ positive ​impact upon enrollment.”

Plans for an aquatic center that will host collegiate and other levels of competition ​and provide community swim lessons‌ have been in the works for over​ a​ decade ⁢since the facility ⁣was first expected to⁢ open in Malta.

Developers initially considered​ a move to Mohawk ⁤Harbor in Schenectady a few years ⁣ago, but those plans were ultimately‌ dropped due to a lack of space at the harbor, where a $50 million hockey arena and event center is currently under construction.

Last July, ⁣leaders at the Adirondack Aquatic Center ⁤announced they had⁤ signed a letter‌ of intent to move the facility to ViaPort, but those⁢ plans fell through after SUNY Schenectady President Steady‍ Moono expressed a desire to keep the ​facility close to‍ campus.

“We had some ⁣discussions with‍ President​ Moono‍ and ​he had a strong preference that it ‌be right there⁢ at the college. If it’s going to ⁣be part of the ​college,⁢ it should be‌ right there at the campus,” Gardner said.

SUNY Schenectady is in the⁤ early stages ‍of⁢ developing programming that⁣ will ‍be⁣ hosted at the facility, including potential athletic, academic, and extracurricular activities.

As part ⁣of the agreement, the county, SUNY ‌Schenectady, and Adirondack Aquatic Center have ⁣entered into a 20-year agreement that will‌ see the Adirondack Aquatic Center operate the facility and ensures ⁢the ⁤college can fully utilize the⁤ center for intercollegiate meets, ⁤swimming instructions for all students and staff, and community-wide ⁢learn-to-swim programs for children from kindergarten up to 12th ​grade.

“SUNY ⁣Schenectady has long been committed to leading higher education, career advancement, community programming, and overall growth in Schenectady ​County ⁣and ‍the Capital Region,” Moono said ⁢in a statement. “Today’s exciting agreement reaffirms ‍our commitment yet again, and I am⁤ thrilled to help⁤ expand Schenectady’s influence⁢ in New York state by bringing competitive swimming and ⁣overall aquatics to our area in​ such a meaningful way.”

Revenue in excess of operating expenses will be transferred to SUNY Schenectady, which will place the⁤ funds into‍ a ⁢separate ⁢fund to cover the costs of capital repairs and improvements for‍ the facility, according to the agreement.

A seven-member oversight⁣ board ​will also be created, with two seats ⁤each appointed by the county and Adirondack Aquatic Center and three appointed by SUNY Schenectady.

Some ⁤lawmakers heralded the project as transformational and called the plan a​ “win-win.” ‍Josh ‌Cuomo, who represents Rotterdam ‍in District 4, was the lone dissenting vote against approving the agreement.

“I fully support the ‍Aquatic Center and SUNY Schenectady, but I ⁢would ⁢really like ⁤to see this project stay ⁢in‌ Rotterdam, so for that reason ⁤and that reason only — I’m sure my children will be⁣ there quite frequently when​ it’s completed — I am⁤ voting no,” Cuomo said.

Kara ⁤Haraden,⁣ board president ⁤of the Adirondack Aquatic Center,‍ thanked lawmakers ⁢for‍ their support and touted ⁤the ⁣aquatic center as‍ an all-inclusive facility that ⁢will ⁣provide programming and⁤ opportunities to community members of all‍ ages and skill levels while creating new⁢ revenue‍ for the county.

“The Capital Region Aquatic Center will be a place that⁢ will⁢ serve all ages ⁣and all abilities, from infants to seniors. A place where​ our‍ community will be able ⁣to ⁤learn, play, heal,​ exercise, train and compete,” she said.

Kiara Thomas
Kiara Thomas
I uncover quirky and compelling stories. Always on the lookout for the 'why' behind the 'what'.
Latest news
Read More


  1. Great news for the community, the new aquatic center will provide a much-needed recreational space for residents!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here