By Tim Gardner
A new Avery County swimming pool is closer to becoming a reality.
By a 4-1 vote, the Avery County Commissioners approved a design plan for the new pool’s construction. The pool will be located on Shady Street in Newland on land across from the old Rock Gymnasium which also houses the Avery Parks and Recreation offices.
Commissioners Martha Hicks (chairperson), Blake Vance (vice-chairman), Tim Phillips and Wood Hall (Woody) Young, Jr. voted to approve the swimming pool’s Plan Option Two. Commissioner Faye Lacey voted against. The estimated cost of Plan Option Two is $2,657,000.00, with an additional $121,000.00 for an 888-square foot community room. That brings the swimming pool facility’s total estimated cost to $2,778,000.00.
The Commissioners have all said they think the pool will benefit the county. However, Lacey said she cast the negative vote because she believes “it (the pool) is too costly, the county could use the money spent on the pool for better purposes and it’s not fair to the county’s taxpayers to spend that much money on it–especially when pool facilities are already available at the YMCA in Linville.”
Lacey added that she also is concerned about the additional costs of staffing the pool with lifeguards and attendants and its general upkeep.
Rob Johnson of Boomerang Designs said the pool’s estimated schedule for the pool’s construction may start as early as mid-summer, depending on bid awards and the issue of a construction permit.
Johnson detailed the three design options that were discussed and considered by the Commissioners.
The first Option Plan called “Base Line,” was the same as a proposal previously given to the Commissioners for consideration by Johnson. It included a 3,450-square foot support building that included a reception lobby, changing rooms for whole families (men, women and children), vending areas and a community room that could be used for various functions.
A projected cost for that Option One, including the support center and site improvements was $2,077, 075.00 with $187,000.00 deducted by a stormwater mitigation grant provided by the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality. Those grant monies were to assist with water mitigation and construction of the facility’s parking lot.
Johnson gave the Commissioners a revised Statement of Probable Cost with a plan that included a 5,167-square foot pool house to be constructed with non-combustible materials and a 5,000 square-foot outdoor pool at a cost of $2,973,052.00. That estimated cost includes site work and additional needed engineering costs that were not in the originate estimate. The revised costs of Option Plan One also included building, contingency and non-construction costs such as soil samples reports, land surveys and various miscellaneous fees.
The Second Option is a more reduced version of the Option One (Base Line) Proposal, Johnson said. In its Probable Cost Statement, the pool house’s square footage area was reduced in volume by lowering its ceiling height and eliminating some of the rock work, among other editions, to 4,279 square feet. The Pool’s dimensions will remain the same. However, there would be no community room in this Option Plan. Its site work preparation work costs remained the same, but other editions knocked down the project’s estimated cost to $2,657,492.00.
A Third Option was also presented to the Commissioners that called for the use of combustible materials in wood trusses and studs for the same square-footage facility as Option Two. The third option would also not have a community room. Option Three’s estimated cost is $2,423,446.00, making it the least costly of the plans presented by Johnson and Boomerang Designs.
However, the Commissioners expressed concerns with building a facility with wood materials that could limit its longevity and durability and hinder its further development like perhaps later covering the outdoor pool.
Avery County Manager Phillip Barrier commented that the neighborhood where the pool will be located will benefit from the new water mitigation that will be funded by an $187,000.00 matching grant awarded to the county by the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality. The grant will fund procedures to stop watershed runoff problems affecting the area near Shady Street and Newland Elementary School.