After City Council Controversy, Natomas Breaks Ground on Aquatic Center

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NATOMAS -- After five years of behind-the-scenes work, the 18-month construction timeline has finally begun for an aquatic and community center in Natomas.

"I think it's very exciting for the community as a whole and it's something that my kids can actually use," said resident Peter Canimo.

Nine-year-old Leo Canimo has started competitive club swimming but there hasn't been a public facility near his home that could accommodate what could be a long career in the water.

The North Natomas Community Center and Aquatics Facility was spearheaded by City Councilwoman Angelique Ashby.

“I'm excited for a million reasons," Ashby said Thursday night.

“Sacramento is a can-do city and Natomas is a can-do community," said Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg.

Ashby and Steinberg were all smiles Thursday but they locked horns over the four-pool facility just three months ago.

Ashby was upset her project and district had been left off the mayor's funding priority list for budget surplus and Measure U dollars.

"I don't think it's yet cooked, frankly," the mayor said at a heated city council meeting.

Eventually, a side deal was worked out contributing 14.4 million city water fund dollars.

Natomas itself raised $20 million of the $45 million price tag through bonds and the local school district kicked in $10 million.

"There's sometimes creative tension but we're all aiming for the same goal and that is to invest as much as possible in our neighborhoods of Sacramento as possible," Steinberg said Thursday.

"The city has a million priorities and it's difficult," Ashby said at the groundbreaking. "It's a difficult job as a council to choose which ones."

Ashby said this is bigger than just her district. It’s the city's first public, Olympic-size pool accessible to families all over Sacramento.

"This is big for Sacramento because we can now host Junior Olympic events. We can host whatever we want that requires an international, regulation, Olympic-size pool with the amenities that are required for those types of events. This has all of that."

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