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Old YMCA land could become aquatics facility

The City of Escondido and American Heritage Education Foundation July 15 entered into a memorandum of understanding to jointly develop an aquatics facility at the old YMCA property at 1050 North Broadway. The MOU is for one year.

According to the MOU, the Foundation—which is a 501(c)3 is in escrow to buy the property that is currently known at Palomar Family YMCA, “which includes an existing pool and related locker room facilities needing significant rehabilitation to operate successfully, but which provide a unique opportunity to fulfill the parties’ joint interests in establishing an aquatics facility in the City of Escondido.”

The American Heritage Education Foundation supports and manages the Escondido Charter High School District Inc. and Heritage K-8 Charter School District Inc.

The foundation and city are still assessing a design for the facility, including the costs to build, maintain such a facility and programing costs to operate it.

The foundation has offered the proposed facility to the city for the benefit of the community. In return it asked the city to express an interest “in taking on the responsibilities associated with the facility, including funding in whole or in part the construction of an aquatics facility, the expected yearly maintenance of the facility, the programming of the uses of the facility and related costs and resources necessary to maintain the facility on a long-term basis.”

The MOU expresses the desire of both parties to work towards a binding agreement to be brought back to the foundation board and city council for a vote at a later time.

The Times-Advocate caught up with Coach Denny Snyder of the American Heritage Education Foundation on Wednesday, and he talked about the Foundation’s goals for the facility. He noted that the YMCA at the property was forced to closed because of COVID.

“An opportunity presented to us to buy for a junior high school,” said Snyder. “We see it as an unbelievable opportunity for our community.”

Currently, Snyder said, there is no pool for high school teams, and swimming clubs have no water polo level pool. “So many have to rent facilities outside of Escondido to practice water polo. To me this is an opportunity. We’re starting down that road to see how we can work together., The school district would benefit and the community. The high schools would have a water polo depth pool. That’s the goal,. I want people to know that it isn’t for us but for the community. If we end up purchasing the property we would lease it to someone to reconfigure to be something the city could be proud of. An aquatics center that people desperately need.”

Coach Snyder said people in Escondido have been working to bring such an aquatics center to the city for 50 years. “This is an unbelievable opportunity for the city, the Y, the swim teams and water polo teams to come together and have something right off the 78 that is convenient for everybody.”

The YMCA, he said, would still have a presence at the complex while a portion would be used by the charter school. “That’s the goal, to make it a community asset.” He noted that the Foundation is still in negotiations over the details with the city. He concluded, “I think it would be a tremendous thing for our community. Everyone comes out a winner.”

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