Mayor gives update on aquatic center project

Christine Stephenson/The Herald
The Jasper Municipal Pool, located next to Jaycee Park, has been around for about 65 years and continues to be a staple in the community every summer. An indoor aquatic center, which has been marked as a high priority project by the city, could possibly be built in the area.


JASPER — The construction of a multi-million dollar aquatic center in Jasper is still a long ways away, Jasper Mayor Dean Vonderheide said, but it’s in motion.

Vonderheide met with the Jasper Park Board at its monthly meeting Tuesday to give an update on the project, which was identified as high priority at the annual city prioritization meeting in May.

It’s not just city officials that want the center, which will be used for multiple indoor sports, not just swimming. The suggestion of an aquatic center received the most interaction via public surveys, City Attorney Renee Kabrick said when the project was identified as a priority.

Vonderheide said Tuesday that the city is asking for input from the public, such as local swimming and soccer clubs that would use the center.

“We want community engagement, not just from the schools, not just from the YMCAs or other entities that might be investing,” he said. “It’s all branches of interest.”

An initial feasibility study led by Hafer, an engineering consultant in Evansville, is underway, Vonderheide said. It’s slated to be complete by early November. The city has been meeting with stakeholders but is still awaiting response from some.

“They seem to all be excited about it, though,” Vonderheide said. “Some of them have already committed.”

The center will likely be built near the Jasper Municipal Pool location and will likely have to overlap into neighboring properties. The pool location is about six and a half acres, Vonderheide said, and the center will probably need closer to 10 or 12 acres.

Financial estimates for the project aren’t yet available, but it will be one of the most  if not the most  expensive project Vonderheide will be involved in, he said.

“It will take a lot of time, and it will take a lot of resources, and it will take a lot of energy to make this thing come to fruition,” he said.

Although the project will be pricey, Vonderheide anticipates it will ultimately benefit the county’s economy.

“From an economic development standpoint, it’s been documented as far as revenue stream that (indoor sports recreation facilities) can generate $130 per individual that would attend sporting events and clubs that usually book these things,” he said. “That’s grandma, grandpa, mom and dad, brother and sister, every individual who comes.”

The center should also help in terms of recruiting new Dubois County residents and increasing quality of life in the area, Vonderheide said. Jasper has always made this a priority, he said, listing the Thyen-Clark Cultural Center and the Smithville fiber project as recent developments that have had the same goal.

“Professional jobs are all over the country,” he said. “We’ve got to create an environment that makes it attractive for them.”

More information about the project will be available in the coming months, Vonderheide said.

The park board also:

• Approved the planting of a flower garden near the Schaeffer Barn, which will be maintained by the local Daughters of the American Revolution chapter. The land on which the garden will be built is on city property. The board also approved the pending transfer of property to erect a flagpole near the garden, as well.

• Heard that Older American Center numbers have been slightly down, potentially due to a limited number of activities due to COVID-19 safety and potentially due to rising COVID-19 cases in the county.

• Accepted a bid for a new John Deere gator for park maintenance for $7,674.51 with a trade-in.

• Heard that no items have been cut from the park budget for 2022 yet. The department will meet with city council again next week and again in October to finalize the budget.

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