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Rogue Credit buys aquatic center naming rights

Medford fourth-graders will get free swim lessons thanks to Rogue Credit Union, which has paid $2.145 million for naming rights to a new sports complex.

“It’s our gift to the community,” said Gene Pelham, president and chief executive officer of Rogue Credit Union.

Pelham and various city officials were on hand Tuesday at Wes Howard Memorial Park to announce the name for the new 160,000-square-foot sports complex at Wes Howard Memorial Sports Park at the corner of Rossanley Drive and North Ross Lane.

Pelham said the name will be Rogue Credit Union Community Complex as part of a 10-year naming agreement with the city.

The credit union money will be used for maintenance costs for the facility, which features two pools.

“Every fourth-grader will get free swim lessons because of our park,” Pelham said.

This is the second-largest naming rights agreement in the state for a municipal park, second only to Providence Park in downtown Portland.

The agreement with Rogue Credit Union will go before Medford City Council Nov. 5.

The cost of the complex is estimated at about $60 million, and plans call for a 90,000-square-foot multi-purpose event center and 42,000-square-foot indoor aquatics facility with restrooms, offices and other support areas.

It will have a recreation pool, a competitive pool, two water slides and a splash pad.

The pool would be paid for through a combination of increased transient lodging taxes and other fees.

City Manager Brian Sjothun said the sports complex fulfills a dream of his to provide a sports and pool complex in Medford, referencing a failed 2012 bond proposal to build pools in another part of Medford.

“As I told my wife, this is so surreal,” Sjothun said.

He said the new sports complex will offer the community far more recreational options than the 2012 proposal.

“If we teach a child to swim one day, they may save their own life and they may be able to save somebody else’s life,” he said.

Rich Rosenthal, director of Medford Parks and Recreation, said he hopes to have an architectural firm lined up to design the facility by the end of the year.

The city will go through various planning processes, including a traffic study and a conditional use permit.

By early 2021, the city hopes to start lining up a construction company to build the project, with a groundbreaking sometime in the spring or summer.

After grading and other site preparation, the city hopes to start building in 2022 and be finished in 2023.

Mayor Gary Wheeler said he remembers as a kid going to the former pool in Hawthorne Park before it was torn out.

The city also has a pool next to Jackson Elementary, but it is showing its age.

He said he also remembers the city struggling for years to get approval for new pools.

“This is a culmination of a desire and a dream,” he said.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or dmann@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @reporterdm.

{ }Representatives of the city of Medford and Rogue Credit Union got into the spirit of the moment at Wes Howard Park when announcing a $2.145 million agreement for naming rights to the city's new aquatics center. (Damian Mann / Mail Tribune)