Aquatic center secures land, looks to capital campaign

The Madison Valley Aquatic Center is one big step closer to becoming a reality.

Last week the aquatic center settled on a location to build the facility and signed a long-term lease with an option to buy on a piece of bare ground just north of Ennis.

Finding a location to build the aquatic center was a challenge and during the past three years a few different locations were considered, said aquatic center board member Sarah Garland.

However, the property the group has leased is in a prime location that will allow access from U.S. Highway 287 and through the North 40 development, Garland said. It will also be next to the Madison Square Athletic Club and the baseball diamonds owned by the Ennis Schools.

“It’s right in the heart of where we want to be,” she said.

The plans for what the aquatic center will be once it is built have also changed over the past couple of years as more work has gone into finding out what the Madison Valley community wants and can support.

The aquatic center plans now call for two pools – an eight lane competitive swimming pool and a zero-entry activity pool, Garland said.

“Between those two items, it’s not a huge facility anymore, we’ve cut it down as small as we can,” she said.

The plan will be to eventually purchase the property they’re leasing and annex it into the city of Ennis, Garland said. The annexing could happen soon.

“We’ll plan on going through that process as soon as possible,” she said.

Though the aquatic center has been raising money for a couple of years, the fundraising will begin in earnest now that a location has been found, said Eileen White, who is the chair of the aquatic center board of directors.

So far the aquatic center has raised about $200,000, White said. Much of that money has gone toward a variety of studies looking at what kind of aquatic center would be feasible in Ennis, as well as some architectural work.

The money already raised has allowed the aquatic center to get to this point, she said. Now the effort will be on a dedicated capital campaign.

“We had a lot of up front expenses to get to this point,” she said. “Having that site will launch us really well into this summer’s fundraising and true capital campaign activities.”

For many of the grants the aquatic center wants to pursue, the land to build the facility had to be secured, Garland said.

During the past year the aquatic center board has been focused on the planning portion of the project while the question of location was being settled, she said. That work will begin to pay off now the land is secured.

“An enormous amount has come through for us in the last several months,” Garland said.

The aquatic center is leasing the land from Ennis businessman Paul McMullin, who is excited for the project to move forward.

“I think it’s great and I’m glad this stage is over with so they can proceed ahead with the specific fundraising,” McMullin said.

Both Garland and White are encouraging more people to become involved with the aquatic center and come to their monthly meetings, which are typically held on the second Tuesday of every month at 8:15 a.m. at the First Madison Valley Bank. However, the next meeting will be a bit of an anomaly and is scheduled for April 17. For more information on the aquatic center, visit their website

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