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Settlement has aquatic center back on track
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Forsyth County News
Now that the city has settled litigation that had delayed construction of a long-awaited aquatic center off Pilgrim Mill Road, it’s time for the community to get excited about a facility that holds great promise for residents of Cumming and Forsyth County.

The Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper had sued the city over alleged violations of state and federal environmental regulations it claimed occurred when work started on the project in 2008.

At the core of the lawsuit was the allegation that work crews dealt improperly with the bed of a stream that sometimes flows through the area.

City officials have said the stream had dried up in the years-long drought that proceeded recent rainy weather, and that there was no evidence of its existence when crews started work on the project.

After months of litigation, accusation and negotiation, city leadership has reached a settlement with the non-profit environmental group and the state’s EPD.

The city will pay a fine, satisfy a number of mandated environmental concerns, and donate money to various environmental efforts as retribution for its violations.

Now, hopefully, a project that has long been in the planning stages can begin moving toward completion.

The building of a state-of-the-art aquatic center has been a vision of city leaders for several years, and county officials have committed $10 million in local option sales tax funds to help finance the $15 million project.

As planned, the aquatic center will include a combination of pools for both recreation and competition, in addition to other amenities.

The public recreational pools are badly needed in the area, but the competition pools with seating for spectators holds great potential for the community.

Interest in competitive swimming has grown at a remarkable rate through the metro Atlanta area in recent years, but venues to host practices and events are few and far between.

Having such a venue in Cumming will help to meet the needs of local athletes, but also holds the potential for bringing competitors from other areas to the county, which can have an economic upside for the community as well as helping to promote the sport.

Also planned for the center are a nature area with walking trail and pond, activity rooms, a fitness center and administrative offices as well as dressing and locker rooms.

Construction of the aquatic center is expected to take some 18 months, which means it likely would open next year if there are no delays in the building process.

Given the city’s track record on big ticket projects — city hall, fairgrounds, Cumming Playhouse, etc. —  we have confidence that the new aquatic center will be one in which we can all take pride and look forward to that first big cannonball off the diving board.