Parks Commissioner Carmen Rubio allocates additional $5 million to future North Portland Aquatic Center

News Article
Key project moves forward for site selection, programming, and design

(Portland, OR) –

Portland Parks Commissioner Carmen Rubio designated an additional $5 million in Parks System Development Charge (SDC) funding to go to the design and construction of an indoor aquatic center for North Portland. This brings the total SDC funding to $16.7 million, as Commissioner Rubio had previously allocated $11.7 million towards the project, which now has about $32 million in funding overall. The planned North Portland Aquatic Center is one of the largest single investments Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) has made for the City in 30 years.

A smiling mother encourages her young son to swim in a PP&R pool. The water is turquoise and stirred up by swimmers.
A mother encourages her young son as he swims with her help in a Portland Parks & Recreation pool.

A full-service indoor aquatic center for North Portland is a crucial need for the health and well-being of North Portlanders. When complete, the center is expected to serve approximately 22,000 households.

In addition to this SDC funding, the Portland City Council authorized a contract with ELS Architecture and Urban Design to lead the design team and provide support for the site selection, programming, schematic design, and land use permitting services for the North Portland Aquatic Center.

The project will include a significant community engagement effort, ensuring the future facility reflects the community’s input. PP&R’s ability to offer a venue for swimming, increased swim lessons, greater recreational enjoyment, and more water fitness classes will be enhanced significantly.

“This is a key funding allocation that brings us closer to realizing the new, much-anticipated indoor aquatic center in North Portland,” says Portland Parks Commissioner Carmen Rubio. “There has long been a clear need for this project, and I will continue work on realizing its completion.”

Park SDCs are not General Fund tax dollars, but rather one-time fees assessed on new development. SDCs help ensure that Portland's quality of life keeps pace with our growing and changing city by providing additional parks and recreation facilities needed to accommodate growth. By law, SDCs may only be used for improvements that will expand the capacity of the parks system.

This long-anticipated project is now on the Portland Parks & Recreation Capital Improvement Project list, with community engagement and other crucial planning continuing.

“Water play, water fitness, and swim classes are instrumental parts of increasing our mental and physical well-being,” says Portland Parks & Recreation Director Adena Long. “It is exciting to move forward on the new aquatic center with more funding and with a design team on board.”

The design process offers another great opportunity for PP&R to partner with communities in North Portland to create a vital community asset for teaching the lifesaving skills of learning to swim. The City is committed to engaging a significant part of this project via the Certification Office for Business Inclusion and Diversity (COBID) for disadvantaged, minority, women-owned, emerging small business, and/or service-disabled veteran-owned business enterprises.

Currently, the project has $16.7 million in funding allocated from System Development Charge (SDC) revenues (including Commissioner Rubio’s additional $5M allocation, and $15 million from a State grant spearheaded by Representative Travis Nelson and supported by Representative Maxine Dexter. The project is estimated to cost approximately $50 million, leaving around $18 million unfunded at this time.

The North Portland Aquatic Center (NPAC) Project Advisory Committee (PAC) recruitment is complete. From 92 applicants -a number never seen in previous PP&R projects- we have a final confirmed PAC roster of 18 individuals. The PAC roster will be posted on the North Portland Aquatic Center project webpage on Friday, October 21, 2022.

Aquatic center project page: