Huge aquatic center in Sacramento finally gets funding. Here’s when construction will start

Take a look at what the North Natomas aquatics center would look like

BCA Architects provide this look at the long-awaited North Natomas Community Center and Aquatics Complex in Sacramento, CA.
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BCA Architects provide this look at the long-awaited North Natomas Community Center and Aquatics Complex in Sacramento, CA.

North Natomas is getting its aquatics center.

The Sacramento City Council on Tuesday voted to approve $14.4 million in funding for the long-awaited North Natomas Community Center and Aquatic Complex.

Sacramento-based Otto Construction plans to break ground on the complex within the next 30 days, said Councilwoman Angelique Ashby, who represents North Natomas and has spearheaded the project. The complex will be finished in the winter of 2020-21, a city staff report said.

The project will be funded with a loan from the city’s water fund, with about $457,000 paid in interest, a city staff report said. Money in the water fund comes from fees on water customers, development fees and other water-related fees the city charges.

The loan would be repaid using a year-end general fund budget surplus, the staff report said. If there is not enough surplus, bonding revenue backed by Measure U sales tax increase revenue could be used, the report said. A City Council approval would be needed for that, though, since bonds have not yet been issued. Money from the general fund, which pays for most core city services, could also be used.

Eight City Council members voted in favor of funding the complex, with Councilman Jay Schenirer abstaining. Schenirer raised concerns that the project was not vetted by two citizen advisory committees that are supposed to weigh in on projects that could be funded with Measure U revenue, which some city officials want focused on disadvantaged neighborhoods.

Schenirer has about five projects in mind for his district, which includes Oak Park, but he has been telling people to take them through the committees, he said.

Though Natomas is not considered a disadvantaged neighborhood, the entire city would use the pool, Ashby said.

The $14.4 million in city money will be combined with $10.6 million from the Natomas Unified School District, and another $20 million in city money, mostly developers’ fees that can only be spent in Natomas.

The complex, being built at North Natomas Regional Park, will feature the city’s first 50-meter Olympic-sized pool with 13 diving boards and lanes; a 25-meter pool; four water slides, a large green space; and a kids’ play area.

The council also approved Tuesday the first steps for major renovations at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Library in Meadowview and a rebuilt North Sacramento Library on Del Paso Boulevard. In total, the MLK library renovations will cost $4 million to $5 million, while the North Sacramento facility will cost $5 million to $7 million, according to a city staff report.

The North Sacramento Library, which is being leased, will likely move to 1830 Del Paso Blvd., a vacant former Bank of America building, from its current location at 2109 Del Paso Blvd., the staff report said.

Mayor Darrell Steinberg would not approve the aquatics center unless it was part of a package with the library improvements, he said previously.

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Theresa Clift covers Sacramento City Hall. Before joining The Bee in 2018, she worked as a local government reporter for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the Daily Press in Virginia and the Wausau Daily Herald in Wisconsin. She grew up in Michigan and graduated from Central Michigan University.