Group looks to Mohawk Harbor in Schenectady for proposed aquatic center

The Adirondack Aquatic Center is also looking at Malta as a potential site for its facility
Mohawk Harbor in November 2017
Mohawk Harbor in November 2017

SCHENECTADY — The Adirondack Aquatic Center’s Board of Directors is eyeing Mohawk Harbor as another potential location for a $22 million swimming facility.

The board is considering Schenectady in addition to a site in Malta, it said in a news release. A $40,000 feasibility study to build a facility at Mohawk Harbor was recently approved by the Schenectady County Metroplex Development Authority’s Board of Directors, the release said.

Metroplex has contracted with Counsilman-Hunsaker to do the study. Metroplex Chairman Ray Gillen referred to the design firm as “the most experienced consultant in the field” in looking at how to get an aquatics center built and financed.

The facility would include a 50-meter Olympic-size swimming pool and play host to regional swimming and diving competitions. It would also be open to community members. It has the potential to attract more than 100,000 visitors to the Capital Region annually, according to the release.

The board has raised nearly $3 million for the facility after beginning fundraising for the facility earlier this year. Kara Haraden, president of the center’s Board of Directors, said that has all been done through private donors.

Haraden said the facility would fill a need in the Capital Region.

“We want to be sure it gets built in an area that is easily accessible; is best utilized by the local community for wellness, recreation and therapy; and attracts people from all over the Northeast for sports, tourism, family fun and more,” Haraden said in a prepared statement.

Schenectady County Legislator Richard Ruzzo said the potential for the facility to attract more visitors to the county is exciting. He backed the idea of Mohawk Harbor being a location for the facility.

“What better place than Mohawk Harbor, the Capital Region’s leading waterfront attraction with a lineup of amenities,” Ruzzo said in a prepared statement.

The 80,000 square-foot facility is being proposed as multiuse and open year-round. It would have four pools of varying lengths, depths and temperatures for a wide-range of swim programs. It has been described as a potential hub for people to learn, exercise, heal, train and compete.

There are plans for the facility to include spectator seating, classroom areas, meeting rooms, an aquatic-focused exercise and weight room, a studio and multipurpose area, a pro shop, a concessions area and locker rooms, according to the release.

The Adirondack Aquatic Center board had previously proposed building a facility in Malta. It was proposed to be built at a 10-acre site located in a health and wellness corridor off Route 67 near Northway Exit 12.

Former Malta Town Supervisor Vincent DeLucia appointed a committee to work with the center’s board of directors in July, according to the release.

“While the first location is still on the table, this feasibility study opens the door to a possible new site with maximum economic impact for our region and programming opportunities for both community members and visitors for years to come,” Haraden said in a prepared statement.

Haraden said while Malta is still in play, some of their potential funders suggested they needed to look at alternative sites. The mission, she said, is to get the facility built.

“There is obviously different foundations and different sources in other areas,” Haraden said. “It’s about getting out there and exploring other options.”

New Malta Supervisor Darren O’Connor said he understood that the group needed to explore its alternatives. He said he still thinks Malta is a great location for the facility.

The town had even offered an arrangement where there would be programs established by the town for its residents at the facility, giving it a guaranteed revenue stream. But it’s unclear whether something like that could work, he said.

“We can’t guarantee it and it wasn’t guaranteed when the board considered it several months ago,” O’Connor said. “We would entertain that sort of arrangement if they chose Malta.”

In Schenectady, Gillen said, there are a lot of benefits they can offer the group looking to build the facility.

There are state and federal programs available in Schenectady that might not be available in Malta, Gillen said. But it’s having items such as Rivers Casino & Resort, nearby hotels and restaurants, and a site that already had an environmental review completed that are added benefits.

“We showed them several sites in the county, but they loved the amenities at the harbor,” Gillen said. “And they like our track record of getting projects financed and built.”

No matter where the facility gets built, Haraden said it will be a huge benefit to the region.

“This is something we have all been passionate about for five years,” Haraden said. “And again, we’re not giving up until the pools are filled.”

Categories: -News-, Schenectady County

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