Saturday, May 24, 2008

Show Me Aquatics has changed plans again! DEAL OR BAD DEAL!

Show Me Aquatics has changed plans again! DEAL OR BAD DEAL!

The St. Charles City Council approved a bill calling for an August election for a bond issue to build a community center on ground to be owned by ShowMe Aquatics and then turn the center over to ShowMe Aquatics to be used by non-residents from around the metro area. They say St. Charles residents, who will be paying the majority of the cost, will be given a discount at the center.

After choosing a site at Friedens Road and Highway 94 in 2000, ShowMe Aquatics switched in July of 2003 and inked a deal to purchase nine acres of land in O’Fallon at Winghaven. At that time Sue Schaeffer, founder and board president was quoted in the Post Dispatch as saying, “We had been looking at that site for a long time.” Needless to say that site is not the home of the “Freedom Center”. An aquatic center that is intended to remove all barriers for those with special needs. They had hoped to break ground in fall of 2004 and open in 2005.

In January of 2004 Show Me Aquatics began discussions with the City of St. Charles to partner with them on the construction of an aquatic center. It was reported by the Post Dispatch that “O’Fallon Mayor Paul Renaud said he didn’t know about ShowMe’s talks with St. Charles...”I’m confident we have a commitment for them to build in O’Fallon,” Renaud said.”

In March of 2004 ShowMe was negotiating to purchase the old Noahs Ark Site in St. Charles City for a new location. Sue Schaeffer was quoted as saying the board thought the Noah’s Ark site was the organizations board’s “absolutely preferred site.” At this time the City was discussing partnering with ShowMe. ShowMe found out May 19, 2004 that the City of St. Charles would not be a partner in the development and Sue Schaeffer was quoted by the Post Dispatch,”It’s important to leave an open door, but we’re moving forward.”

ShowMe Aquatics did move forward at the Noah’s Ark Site. They partnered with Greg Whittaker to create a “New Urbanist” development with ShowMe as one of the anchors. ShowMe and Whittaker both convinced the City to pass the largest TIF in St. Charles County history and one of the top 10 TIF’s in State history. Since, Whittaker sold out to Cullinen and now it appears ShowMe’s “absolute preferred site” is no longer that absolute. The massive TIF is still in place even with ShowMe and Whittaker both backing out.

As of May 9, 2008 the Show Me Aquatics web site still boasted that the future “Freedom Center” was going to be located at the old Noahs Ark site at Highway 70 and 5th Street. This was until the new “ideal” site of the old K-Mart located on the outer road at 70 and First Capitol was unveiled. ShowMe Aquatics has finally found a partner that will invest $30 million of taxpayer funds to their $10 million. The administration of St. Charles Mayor Patti York

ShowMe Aquatics has never had a building to manage. This will be the organizations first and they will be in control of the daily operations. The center will be built in conjunction with the City of St. Charles and is supposed to serve as the long debated community center. In a press release Mayor York is quoted as saying,”We are excited to announce this landmark project today, not only for the people of St. Charles, but for the entire St. Louis region.” In most communities the city builds a community center for those who live in the community to gain a sense of community. This center is intended to be a draw for those in the entire region and will be funded by the residents of St. Charles. Deal or Bad Deal. Let us know what you think.