ONTARIO — With a full summer of the Ontario Splash Park under their belts, the Ontario Recreation District’s pool committee has taken the first steps towards the eventual goal of reopening the Ontario Aquatic Center.
The group held a meeting Thursday night at the Ontario Recreation District office, bringing new Ontario Recreation District Director Andrew Maeda up to speed with the goings on of the project. Maeda, who took over as recreation director in early August, graduated from Ontario High School in 2012 and said he hasn’t been a part of any pool-related business before.
He said he’s gotten a lot of information from Ontario City Manager Adam Brown since the aquatic center was transferred over to the recreation district. One of the biggest pieces of information Maeda said he got was a structural integrity analysis done in 2006 — this is the most recent analysis of its kind.
Ultimately, the pool committee decided to implement a new two-part plan before any movement starts at the aquatic center.
Firstly, Maeda said, the group will be pursuing an up-to-date assessment of things that were found to be stable in 2006.
“To use all of that information would be reckless,” Maeda said.
He said even if an assessment was only three years old, there would still be a need to get a new look at the property before moving forward.
The second part of the plan is to check out the pool itself, especially the plumbing.
“The key for that is to not spend unnecessary money,” Maeda said. “We can’t be demolishing things that don’t need it … it’s not just about what’s going to look the best.”
Maeda said that as soon as that analysis is done, the pool committee will have their foundation that they can build on.
Maeda said he wants to get the public in on the aquatic center as much as possible.
“I want to get the community involved,” he said. “If you want to come and help, please do. Come and help us with landscaping. Be at the committee meetings. If you want to be involved, be involved.”
Maeda said he’s also hoping to be at a future Citizens Coalition of Ontario meeting to spread the word that the pool committee is always looking for feedback from the public.
Another aspect comes in programs that would be run at the aquatic center. Maeda said funding is always an issue when you’re talking about public pools, and the recreation district and the pool committee will need to look into the best programs available so they can have as many people at the pool as possible.
“We want to hit the ground running as soon as we get this going,” Maeda said. “And once it starts up, everybody needs to be involved.”
As far as funding for the pool renovations goes, Maeda said the Ontario Recreation District has a section of its budget for aquatic center/splash park use, but it’s not going to be enough to cover the costs immediately.
Maeda said the recreation district will be looking into grants available for projects like the aquatic center. He said the recreation district will also be accepting donations from community members, the same way the City of Ontario did with the splash park.
Splash Park usage
In the final weeks of the Ontario Splash Park before closing for the year, the recreation district placed a clipboard on the fence door where people could sign in when they entered the splash park. The idea behind the sign-in sheet was to give the recreation district a good idea of how many people were using the splash park every day and where they were coming from.
“We have to create something that’s a little more in their way,” Maeda said, laughing about the placement of the sign-in sheet.
Maeda said, according to the responses, the splash park had about 60 people per day going before the hours were restricted when school started back up in Ontario. After the hours restriction, he said the number of people going to the splash park dropped to about 40. But Maeda said he is sure that the number of patrons is more than that, but they are only able to track the amount of people who actually use the sign-in sheet. He said they might consider having someone at the splash park next year whose job it is to track the number of people using the amenity.
The Ontario Splash Park will close for the year at 9 p.m. Monday and will reopen May 25.
Nik Streng is a sports and news reporter at The Argus Observer. He can be reached at (541) 823-4806 or