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Ground Broken On West Lafayette Aquatic Center

Stan Jastrzebski

Shiny silver shovels turned a mound of ceremonial sand Thursday as West Lafayette officials commemorated the construction – already begun behind them – of the city’s new wellness and aquatic center.

West Lafayette Redevelopment Commission Chair Larry Oates says the project had been looked at as a goal for decades in the future – until a 2016 meeting with a consultant to discuss a parks master plan.

“Mayor [John] Dennis said “uh, yes, we can do that now.’ And that consultant immediately went back into trying to sell it back to us again," Oates says. "That we need to do this. And about 15 or 20 seconds into that conversation, all of a sudden he stopped and he went ‘you said we can do it now?’”

Though public input sessions suggested the project would cost around $25 million, a Thursday press release puts the actual cost at closer to $34 million.

Oates says the target date for the facility’s opening is January first of 2021.

“It will be a 73,000-square foot building. It’ll have three gymnasiums, a walking track, a fitness center, a pool, an indoor playground for children,” says West Lafayette Parks Superintendent Kathy Lozano.

Oates says the project is already about a week ahead of schedule due to recent dry weather.

He insists he’s not worried about competing for business with a similar facility on the Purdue University campus or with several swimming pools operating in Lafayette. He says he doesn’t know the yearly cost to staff and run the building, though the feasibility study estimates the city will need to add at least $250,000 worth of full-time staff salaries.