June 17, 2014
HPISD, City of UP explore idea of joint-use natatorium
Facility would mean classroom space at HPHS, year-round swimming at UP

The Highland Park ISD School Board and the University Park City Council met June 16 to explore the possibility of a partnership that meets future needs for both entities.

 A joint-use natatorium, which would be located adjacent to the existing Holmes Aquatic Center on Lovers Lane, would allow HPISD to replace its 50-year-old indoor natatorium with 22-24 classrooms at Highland Park High School. The district has been looking at all options that would allow it to add classroom space as it continues to deal with increasing enrollment. It would also provide University Park with a year-round indoor swimming and activities center, a natural complement to the existing outdoor pool facilities and park.
To take advantage of non-recapture dollars, officials discussed the possibility of construction funding coming from a May 2015 HPISD bond issue with the City funding day-to-day natatorium operations. Early estimates indicate the natatorium would cost $15 million-$18 million to construct.
Under the initial plans, the new natatorium would provide more than twice the swimming capacity of the current natatorium at HPHS. The facility would also have community rooms for special events and locker rooms for community members and student athletes.
"The Texas government allows for these types of projects to occur through the concept of interlocal agreement in which two governmental entities come together with the idea that you have common taxpayers and it's the opportunity for efficiency and leverage of your assets," said HPISD Superintendent Dr. Dawson Orr. "Obviously, the unique feature for Highland Park is that while our operating dollars are recaptured at 68 to 70 percent, our construction dollars that would be obtained through a bond issue are not recaptured at all."
"From the City's perspective, there's an opportunity for a partnership with the school district ... and to complement existing programs with new programs that we haven't been able to (offer) with the facilities we currently have," University Park City Manager Robbie Corder said, adding that the site for the natatorium would not require land acquisition.
In terms of next steps, the City of University Park will go forward with a feasibility study for natatorium operations, including parking standards and the impact on traffic. HPISD will add the natatorium concept to the list of options in its long-term facilities plan.
Toward the end of the meeting, both the City Council and HPISD School Board affirmed their interest in further exploring the idea.
"I think this is a great opportunity, and I appreciate the Council's openness to looking at this on a collaborative basis ... to really think about improving our existing facilities and programs for the entire community - it's a great idea," HPISD Trustee Paul Rowsey said.
"It's a wonderful opportunity for the community to come together and work together for a result that could be a benefit to everyone," University Park Mayor Olin Lane, Jr. said.
Click here to view the meeting presentation.
Copyright (c) 2014 Highland Park Independent School District, All rights reserved.