By Tim Gardner
Avery County officials and its construction executives held a groundbreaking for the county’s new swimming pool on August 2. 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.
By a 4-1 vote, the Avery County Commissioners approved a design plan for the new pool’s construction with Martha Hicks, Blake Vance, Tim Phillips and Wood Hall (Woody) Young, Jr. voting to approve its “Plan Option Two.” Lacey voted against, contending that she feels a new pool is ‘too costly and the YMCA pool in Linville could be used instead by those from the county wishing to do so.”
Some county residents have expressed concerns over the pool being built on the site of the county’s long-time community vegetable garden. But Jerry Moody, Avery County Cooperative Extension Director said the 35 to 40 people growing vegetables in the Community Garden have known for a long time that the county had purchased that land and planned to build a swimming pool there.
But the end result is a most positive one as the county will get a new swimming pool and cooperative extension building and the Community Garden will be re-located in 2019 to the grounds of the new Cooperative Extension Center. The commissioners and the county’s Cooperative Extension Staff have announced a Grand Opening and Ribbon Cutting for the new Cooperative Extension Center on Friday, August 17 at 12:00 noon. The building is located at 661 Vale Road in Newland
The new cooperative extension building will be a full-service, multi-purpose administration, community meeting and training facility. It will house the local North Carolina Cooperative Extension Center, which will be moving from its old facility next to the Mayland Community College Avery Learning Center in Newland.
Besides the updated look of the building, it houses new amenities and luxuries like a water refill station and a fully equipped kitchen. The building’s second level houses the mechanical infrastructure.
The first in a series of potential future projects at the Heritage Park site, Moody said the next project on the “wish list” is a community center building with an estimated cost of $1 million. The county contracted with fundraising consulting company Capital Development earlier in 2018 to help produce the funding for that project.
Moody added that in the past the Extension would have to borrow other people’s property for much of its programs, but with the property at Heritage Park, more of those programs will be able to be hosted in-house.
Moody added the Extension staff is excited to get out of the current building due to problems with black mold and movement of the walls in the old facility.
As for the swimming pool, the Garanco, Inc. General Contractor Firm of Pilot Mountain, NC, was awarded its construction contract. Garanco’s submitted bid was $2,752,300.00. The pool is due to be finished in 225 days, which should be approximately sometime in May of 2019.
Last year, Garanco also submitted the lowest bid of $1,399,900.00 on the county’s new co-operative agricultural extension service building.
The estimated cost of the adopted pool plan (Option Two) is $2,657,000.00, with an additional $121,000.00 for an 888-square foot community room. That brought the swimming pool facility’s last total estimated cost to $2,778,000.00 before Garanco’s bid.
Rob Johnson, spokesperson for Boomerang Designs, of Charlotte, NC, the architectural firm for the pool, detailed the three design options that were discussed and considered by the Commissioners.
The first Option Plan called “Base Line” 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 storm water 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 had given 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.
In the Second Option’s 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 Plan 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 was $2,423,446.00, making it the least costly of the plans presented by Johnson and Boomerang Designs.
But 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.
Barrier noted that the county received an $187,000.00 matching grant 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, which Barrier added will benefit the area where the pool will be located.
Moody said the current community garden near where the swimming pool will be constructed encompasses approximately one acre, but the new garden site could have much more space available for both vegetables and fruits to be grown. He commented: “The Community Garden has been tremendously good for Avery County and we’re excited that it can continue in what can be an even expanded manner, serving many more people who wish to garden.”
Moody added that those raising vegetables in the Community Garden primarily use what they harvest for their own food, but also give some vegetables to others.
Barrier declared that the new pool, Cooperative Extension Center building and Community Garden will be huge assets to the County. “The swimming pool and Co-Op building will be awesome for the county as will the Community Garden at a new place,” he said. “None of the county officials wanted to do anything to disrupt the Community Garden as it’s helped so many people. So moving it to a new location will potentially make it even better than ever. I commend all those who have worked so hard in making the county’s Community Garden so beneficial to a lot of people.”
Moody also noted that in a show of good faith, representatives from the Garanco, Inc. purchased produce for what those using the Community Garden might lose some produce this harvest season. Moody added he has been distributing approximately a bushel of vegetables and fruits to those possibly affected, compliments of the construction firm.