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Diving right in at aquatic center
Cooperative effort lauded by officials
1 Aquatic WEB
As local officials watch, Cumming Mayor H. Ford Gravitt cuts the ribbon on the Cumming Aquatic Center during a ceremony Tuesday. - photo by Jim Dean

 

Local leaders celebrated community cooperation during the official opening of the Cumming Aquatic Center.

A grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony for the 50,000-square-foot facility on Pilgrim Mill Road was held Tuesday morning, though the center opened to the public on June 27.

Cumming Mayor H. Ford Gravitt called the project a representation of collaboration between city, county and other community leaders.

“I can’t thank the [Cumming city] council enough for their support. Without them we wouldn’t have gotten to this place,” Gravitt said.

The $15 million facility was funded through Forsyth County’s 1-cent special purpose local option sales tax, or SPLOST. About $5 million came from the city’s portion of the fifth round of the tax, while the remaining $10 million came from the sixth, paid in advance by the county in December 2008.

Gravitt also recognized current members of the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners, which the city has been “working real close with” in recent months.

“Working together means we can come a long way and do a lot more,” Gravitt said.

Commission Chairman Brian Tam said the center is well needed.

“This is an example of a vision,” Tam told Gravitt. “In 2003, when SPLOST V came about, everyone was asking about the aquatic center, when will the aquatic center be coming … I want to say congratulations to you.”

The mayor also thanked James McCoy, president and CEO of the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce, and Lynn Jackson, who served as the chamber board chairwoman during much of the aquatic center’s construction.

“The aquatic center stands in testament to the spirit of cooperation and collaboration we have in our community,” Jackson said.

“As a mother and now a grandmother, I know this is the place that a lot of great memories will be made.”

McCoy added that the center will also have a large economic impact on the county.

“What people do not know yet … is the great need and demand folks have for this type of facility,” he said.

The center features three aquatic areas: indoor competition and instructional pools, and an outdoor leisure pool with kids’ splash play area, a lazy river and 156-foot water slide.

The 50-meter competition pool features seating for up to 1,200 people, allowing it accommodate swim meets as large as collegiate competitions.

McCoy said the chamber’s recently hired director of tourism, Anna Brostrom, has already heard interest from a tourism standpoint.

“There’s real interest in this as a major competition pool,” McCoy said.

Gravitt also thanked representatives from Winter Construction, Reid & Reid Contractors and The Howell Group Inc. for engineering, design and construction of the project.

Greg Little, director of the Cumming Parks and Recreation Department, also thanked the center’s staff, which includes five administrative positions and 44 lifeguards.

“I’m just as proud of the staff as I am of the facility, and I’m pretty doggone proud of the facility,” Little said.