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Evansville Courier & Press (Indiana)



EVANSVILLE - Evansville native and Olympic medalist Lilly King spoke in support of Evansville's new pool facility Monday night.

She was one of many to speak in support of the Deaconess Aquatic Center during Monday night's City Council meeting where they discussed the relocation and renaming of aged Lloyd Pool.

After a nearly two-hour meeting, the construction of the Deaconess Aquatic Center is one step closer to reality. The City Council unanimously approved the issuance of no more than $25 million in bonds to finance the project.

"It's about time," King said after Council voted to approve the project. "It's just incredible knowing that the kids in this community are going to be able to grow up in a better swimming community than I had a chance to. I'm just really happy for them."

The maximum term of the bond is 20 years with an interest rate not to exceed 6 percent, according to city documents.

Prior to the meeting, rumors surfaced about King's involvement in the new aquatic center with some saying the 50-meter competition pool will be named after King, who won two gold medals at the 2016 Olympics and four at the 2017 World Championships, where she set four world records.

Mayor Lloyd Winnecke said King was a huge motivation for the project and would be recognized for her success at a later date but declined to say the pool was being named for the Olympian.

"We certainly respect Lily's remaining collegiate career," Winnecke said. "We certainly don't want to do anything to jeopardize that.. There will be a way to honor Lilly's contribution to the sport in a very appropriate way."

According to the 2017-18 Indiana University Student athlete handbook, all athletes who accept an extra benefit or booster could render themselves ineligible for athletic competition. Athletes cannot accept cash, gifts or honorariums for a speaking engagement or appearance.

King said information regarding her participation would become available sometime in March, when she finishes her collegiate career.

The overall objectives of Winnecke's proposal is to build a "state-of-the-art" swim facility at Garvin Park and name the new facility Deaconess Aquatic Center.

Winnecke told the City Council the conditions at Lloyd Pool were insufficient for competitive and recreational swimming.

Reitz High School junior and swimmer Forrest Wade said the city's current pool conditions are "failing."

"Lloyd Pool is on its last leg, with its final years of use being stretched out in an attempt to suit the demand for swimming facilities," Wade said.

Ward 2 Councilwoman Missy Mosby said she understood the need for the pool and asked about the proposed site's location.

"I know the need for this," she said. "My niece and nephew took swim lessons there last year and it, as Lilly King said, is an embarrassment to Evansville. It's time we need to do something about that."

The Deaconess Aquatic Center will cost $28.4 million, according to Winnecke. Casino proceeds, Deaconess Hospital, the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corp. and Jacobsville TIF District will fund the project. Deaconess Hospital plans to contribute $2.5 million over the course of 15 years, Winnecke said last week. The EVSC plans to contribute $700,000 for construction. In addition to its contribution, the school district will make payments to use the facility once it is constructed.

The YMCA may also partner with the new facility for swim programming, Winnecke said.

The next step for the project is to for the city to seek approval from the Redevelopment Commission to release $4 million from the Jacobsville TIF fund. The final step is going back to Council in November to request an additional $5 million from casino funds to pay for the project's $10.2 million down payment.

With the City Council's approval, the mayor hopes to break ground in the spring of 2019. The new facility is scheduled to open in August 2020.

"It's about time. It's just incredible knowing that the kids in this community are going to be able to grow up in a better swimming community than I had a chance to. I'm just really happy for them."

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September 12, 2018


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