East Center pool

The East Center pool, closed last year, opened in 1963.

The future of the East Center pool could be decided as early as next week. 

On Thursday, the Green Valley Recreation Planning and Evaluation Committee approved a recommendation for the East Center pool replacement, which will be put to a vote in front of the GVR Board of Directors on March 17.

The staff recommendation, which was investigated and developed with the help of GVR staff, the Aquatics Subcommittee, and community feedback, outlines a 30-by-60-foot pool with an attached “therapy pool” that would feature lift chair access, exercise bars and other amenities.

Commonly known as the warmest of GVR’s pools, including therapy-style accommodations in the reconstruction was important to GVR members who historically have used the East Center pool, GVR CEO Scott Somers said.

“This pool is known far and wide in Green Valley as the ‘therapy pool,’” he said during Thursday’s meeting. “These adjacent neighbors know and appreciate that, and that was something that came across as (Facilities Director) David (Jund) and I were meeting with neighbors over the past few weeks,” he said.

The recommendation also outlines a 20-by-20-by-8.5-foot area for synchronized swimming and full-length swim lane, as well as an enlarged pool deck with improved lighting, two permanent shade structures and a 14-person capacity spa.

Beyond the pool’s design, the recommendation points to some underlying issues that need to be addressed during the renovation, including stabilizing the ground beneath the pool basin.

Since the 1980s, differential soil settlement has caused recurring foundational issues at the bottom of the pool, which eventually led to a leak that lost an estimated 250 gallons of water a day and permanently closed the facility last spring.

According to a 2018 geotechnical report, the soil possesses “a relatively high potential for hydro-collapse...and any repair that does not address the underlying soils will maintain a relatively high potential for recurring cracking.”

The staff recommendation for the pool replacement does not include a cost estimate. Based on feedback from the project consultant, Somers said he expects an estimation upwards of $750,000.

Committee member Jim Maxwell, who abstained during Thursday’s committee vote to send the recommendation to the GVR Board, said the potential price tag gave him pause.

“I just have a hang-up on the $750,000 for the least used of 11 pools. That’s a lot of money for a pool,” he said.

Since 2019, the East Center Pool has seen the lowest attendance of GVR’s major centers, and had been the second least-attended pool prior to 2019, eclipsed only by the West Center Pool, which has historically had the lowest attendance.

Committee member Arthur Mournian noted that investing in GVR’s facilities now makes sense for the long term, especially as the Green Valley community continues to grow.

“We’re limited to how many facilities we have. By expanding the capabilities, you could as a result expand the utilization of the pool,” he said.

GVR President Don Weaver said he’s appreciative of the collaborative effort GVR staff and community members put into crafting the recommendation.

“The key thing in all of this was the fact that Scott Somers and David Jund met with people surrounding the pool and got their input,” Weaver said.

“The East Center is a historic pool — the oldest pool in Green Valley — and I’m anxious to get it to the board and see what happens,” he said.

You can read the full staff recommendation on the East Center Pool and Spa Replacement, as well as the Aquatics Subcommittee proposal, here: bit.ly/ECPSRMemo.

The GVR Board of Directors is scheduled to meet remotely at 2 p.m. March 17. Join the meeting via Zoom here: gvrec.org/remote-meetings.

Mary Glen Hatcher | 520-547-9740

Mary Glen is a North Carolina native who's excited to explore the Tucson area through her reporting with Green Valley News. She graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill's Hussman School of Journalism and Media in 2019.