Monday night, the district held a groundbreaking ceremony to officially mark the start of construction. OPS is replacing a 50-year-old pool with a new facility that will be a great addition to not just our student athletes, but the greater community and regional swimming events.
“This new aquatic facility will provide an exceptional facility for our student-athletes, our elementary and middle school students, our club programs, and our community. This facility will be approximately 30,000 square feet with seating capacity for approximately 500 spectators, which will be the largest spectator pool in southwest Michigan,” said Jeff Haase, Superintendent of Otsego Public Schools.
Otsego has a tradition of excellence in its swim programs with state competitors at the high school level each year and a successful club program and middle school swim program to train student-athletes from an early age.
“This is going to be fantastic, the community deserves this, the school deserves this, and the swimmers. It’s been my pleasure to be at the head of this program for the last few years and I can’t wait to see what this brings,” said Darryl Belton, head coach of the girls and boys high school swim teams. Belton is in his 27th year of coaching at Otsego which has swim opportunities for kids ages 5-18.
The new aquatic facility will have a total of 11 swim lanes, three of which will include a shallow area for warm-ups, swim lessons, aqua aerobics or other group activities. Eight lanes will be available for competition. The facility will have a separate outside entrance so it can be open during the day for the community without access to the high school. (Hours to be determined.) There will be community and family locker rooms. Spectator features will include windows on the west side of the seating area for viewing toward Bulldog stadium, lobby seating on both the lower and upper floors for families to gather between events and a concession stand. There will also be a community room that will be ideal for birthday parties or gatherings and the facility will be accessible to all - both swimmers and spectators. It is scheduled to open in the fall of 2023.
This new facility is made possible by the support of Otsego voters who passed a bond on May 5, 2020 that replaced a Building & Site Sinking Fund and allowed the district to receive $22.9 million dollars for district improvements and new facilities without an increase in taxes for residents.
“I couldn’t be more proud of this district and more appreciative of our community support. Together, we are always looking for opportunities to move forward,” Haase added.
The current pool site will be transformed into a multi-purpose building with additional space for athletic practices, our robotics/STEM/STREAM programs and more. Other projects within this bond include new windows, new HVAC systems, added air conditioning in our kitchens, cafeterias and gymnasiums at our elementary buildings and middle school, new playground equipment and other upgrades and additions within the buildings/classrooms such as furniture and lockers.