Perris-Menifee Valley Aquatics Center Hailed as a 'Place of Champions' Before Large Crowd at Groundbreaking Ceremony

From left: Robert Field, executive director of the Riverside County Economic Development Agency; Ri...

From left: Robert Field, executive director of the Riverside County Economic Development Agency; Riverside County 5th District Supervisor Marion Ashley; Perris Mayor Daryl Busch; Riverside County 3rd District Supervisor Jeff Stone; and Menifee Mayor John Denver take part in the groundbreaking ceremony.
Dignitaries from Riverside County, Perris and Menifee joined local swimmers, swim coaches and fans of aquatics sports Tuesday morning to celebrate the groundbreaking for the Perris-Menifee Valley Aquatics Center.

The facility will be built next to the Perris Valley Big League Dreams, a youth baseball and softball complex that opened in January. The aquatics center, to be built across the street from the Eastern Municipal Water District office on Trumble Road in Perris, was hailed as a landmark opportunity for the youth of the area and local communities in general.

"This is going to be a place of champions," Riverside County 5th District Supervisor Marion Ashley told a large crowd gathered at the site. "As I watched the Olympic swimming events, I couldn't help but think about this facility. I saw that huge pool on TV and I thought, 'We're getting one of those!' "

The centerpiece of the 12-acre facility will be a 50-meter swimming pool, measuring exactly to Olympic standards. In addition to providing young swimmers the opportunity to train at Olympic distances, the pool will be big enough to allow two swim teams to practice or compete at the same time.

By dividing the pool into two sections, two high school water polo teams could play games simultaneously or two swim teams could work out at the same time. This is of great appeal locally, considering that Perris High is the only one of three high schools in the Perris Union High School District with a pool, and it is more than 30 years old.

Menifee Mayor John Denver is interviewed by a local television station prior to the ceremony.
"I've got about 30 kids who want to come out with shovels and start digging," said Heritage High School Athletic Director Dave Drake as he watched the first shovels in the ground at the site. "We will definitely have an aquatics program at Heritage now. Our target is to have a full-blown program in place by the spring of 2014."

The facility is expected to be completed by the fall of 2013. In addition to the Olympic swimming pool with 1- and 3-meter diving boards, there will be a children's water playground, "lazy flow" river, three water slides and two sand volleyball courts.

According to Ashley, the facility has the working title of The Drop Zone, a takeoff on nearby March Air Force Base and the skydiving area at nearby Perris Airport.

The project has a budget of $25 million, provided through 1-215 Corridor Redevelopment funds designated for the Romoland/Perris area. The location has been questioned by some Menifee residents, but officials made it clear that were it not for funds designated for this particular area, the facility would not have been built at all.

"The state has eliminated redevelopment funds, and 400 redevelopment agencies across the state have been disbanded," explained Andrew Frost, Development Manager for the Economic Development Agency. "If Charlene Busch hadn't put this idea into Marion Ashley's head years ago, this never would've happened."

Busch, daughter-in-law of Perris Mayor Daryl Busch, began pushing for such a facility seven years ago, when she saw the benefits of the swim program at Perris High for her children. Facing enormous logistical and financial challenges, the project finally came to fruition when Ashley and others pushed for the use of redevelopment funds -- money that is no longer available for future projects like this.

"We barely got in under the wire," Ashley said about funding for the project. "Sadly, this and Big League Dreams will be among the last of the redevelopment projects. I urge you to keep in touch with your legislators to let them know the significance of this."

A television crew sets up a shot alongside construction equipment at the site.

A draft visual shows designers' preliminary vision of the aquatic center.


Perris-Menifee Valley Aquatics Center 7651878211695337348

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