Plans for an aquatic center at North Domingo Baca Park have been in the works for over 20 years, and this may be the year those plans come to fruition.
When asked what her predictions for 2023 are, City Councilor Brook Bassan said that although world peace would be nice, a more realistic prediction is the beginning phase of construction on an aquatic center at NDB Park.
“My big prediction that I’m going to be feeling very good about, and I really want to strongly put it out there is, I predict that we will break ground on building the North Domingo Baca Aquatic Center in 2023,” Bassan said.
Brad Winter, the former District 4 councilor Bassan is filling the shoes of, was instrumental in the construction of North Domingo Baca Park, the skate park and multigenerational center located there.
“Councilor Winter, my predecessor, worked really hard at building and creating all of North Domingo Baca Park and the multigenerational center and the skate park, so it’s a fabulous location in Albuquerque, and the last thing that it needs is the aquatic center,” Bassan said. “We’re going to end up creating it and making it a state-of-the-art, competitive, therapeutic recreational facility so that everyone of all ages can come and utilize it, and it will not just be for the people in District 4. It will be for the entire state and region at this point because we don’t have pools in Albuquerque that are capable of hosting large swim meets.”
Sandia High School and Albuquerque Academy are two locations where swim meets are held in the northeast part of the city, but neither of those facilities meet the needs required for both large-scale competitions and recreational activities.
Bassan said the new aquatic center at North Domingo Baca will be able to do both. She said the NDB Aquatic Center will be bigger than the pool at West Mesa High School and will also have an additional warm up area needed for competitions, which West Mesa does not have.
“West Mesa, one of the unintended consequences that happened there was that there was never a separate pool created for warming up and cooling down. So even though they have eight lanes, one of them has to always be secured as their warmup cooldown per any of the regulations for competition. So that limits how many people and what competitions can come and swim there because they don’t have the full eight lanes,” Bassan said. “This will have eight lanes. It will have a warmup cooldown pool, plus then outside we’re going to have more lanes that people can just swim laps outside in the sun and enjoy New Mexico weather, and it will have a beach entry recreational pool with slides and more of the sprays for the youth and family to have more fun.”
The new aquatic center will also have a diving well for competitions and plenty of room for spectators to watch. A recent dive competition at Sandia High School had limited seating for parents and a small, crowded space for athletes to warm up and wait their turn to dive.
“There’s going to be a significant amount of seating for spectators, and it will be in an upper level, and again that will be per the regulations so that it doesn’t interfere with any potential for competition,” Bassan said.
The $32 million aquatic center will be built on the 4.59-acre dirt lot just west of the upper parking area at North Domingo Baca Park. A 2021 Huitt-Zollars site analysis and renderings released last year, show there are plans for a 50-meter, eight-lane competition pool, a 25-yard warm-up/therapy pool and an outdoor recreation pool with two water slides and a 25-yard, four-lane pool. A 76-car parking area is also slated to be constructed on the south side of the aquatic center, between the tennis courts and multigenerational center.
“I’m really pushing hard to break ground on the North Domingo Baca Aquatic Center in 2023,” Bassan said. “The design should be finishing up somewhere near and around springish, and so once that design is done, we’re looking at hopefully, by late fall, we’re going to be able to actually put a shovel in the ground and begin construction.”