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City OKs design for aquatic center
Site clearing work likely to start soon
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Forsyth County News

Two indoor and two outdoor pools, seating for nearly 750 and more than 400 parking spaces are included in the long-awaited design of the Cumming Aquatic Center approved Tuesday.

"I'm excited," said Greg Little, director of the Cumming Parks Department. "I think we're very pleased and very excited about what we've got presented before us tonight and I think it's the start of a great project."

During the meeting, architect Bill Howell of the Howell Group presented the mayor and council with his firm's design. Among its features is a brick front and whimsical design, which Howell said creates the feeling of "entering a place of fun."

The facility, planned for a 12-acre site on Pilgrim Mill Road, includes a small, outdoor tot pool, designed for children about 2 years old. The pool has a maximum depth of 18 inches.

The second outdoor pool is the leisure pool, encompassing about 5,500 square feet. The leisure pool includes amenities like fountains, a river-like water path and a slide.

Inside the Aquatic Center building is one recreational pool and one competition pool. The recreational pool includes a four-lane lap pool, 25 yards long.

Alongside the lanes is a sectioned-off therapy area, designed for rehabilitation use. The competition pool includes 10, 50-yard lanes.

The pool is 25 yards wide and can be used for a number of different types of swim meets, said Howell. The pool also includes one 3-meter diving board, and two 1-meter boards.

Separating two of the parking decks is a nature area, including a walking trail and pond.

The building's first floor includes three activity rooms, office and administration space and a room for lifeguards. it also features locker rooms and a fitness training center.

Upstairs is a concessions area and access to seating for the competition pool. All aspects of the facility are handicap accessible.

Howell assured Mayor H. Ford Gravitt his firm would keep within the project's $14.8 million budget.

Groundbreaking is set for early 2009, Little said. From then, the project is expected to take about 18 months to complete.

"We're really trying to target October of 2010," he said. "We don't want to be overly aggressive. There have been other pools that have been very aggressive in their building plan and end up being three months behind."

The project could be finished earlier, but Little said they're just focusing on meeting scheduled timelines.

To that end, Gravitt and the council authorized the department to advertise for bids for the site work. Initial grubbing and clearing likely will be completed prior to the city's Oct. 21 meeting.

This will allow the grading work to begin while the final details on the remainder of the project are being worked out.

"We will advertise for bids as soon as the grading plan is done," Little said.

"The grading can actually be done while we're finalizing and nitpicking the building design. This is just an effort to speed the project up rather then waiting until December and bidding it all at once."

While construction costs have soared, recent turmoil in the financial industry could work in the city's favor.

"With the way the economy is, people are knocking doors down to get work," Little said. "As a general rule, construction prices are coming in lower now than they have previously, so we're actually hoping we can benefit from this."