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Swim center stalled
Pool site at standstill
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Forsyth County News
It could take anywhere from two weeks to two months, but city officials are determined to begin building the long-awaited aquatic center on Pilgrim Mill Road.

For nearly two months, the city has worked with the state Environmental Protection Division to reconcile an alleged violation of water quality laws that resulted from clearing land for the center.

The EPD and a nonprofit river protection group contend the city encroached on state waters. Though Cumming Mayor H. Ford Gravitt disagrees, he and the city are working to resolve the issue, which has recently been passed along to the Army Corps of Engineers.

The project, which is projected to take about 18 months to build, is at best two months behind its original October 2010 completion date.

“Everything is ready ... we’re being held up by them [Army Corps and EPD] right now,” Gravitt said. “All this has got to be resolved before anything can be done.

“[We] can help the economy if they’d ever let us get started, because all in total, this is probably going to be a $50 million project.”

At Tuesday night’s City Council meeting, project designer Bill Howell of the Howell Group briefed the mayor and councilmen on recent exchanges with the corps.

Howell said he met with corps officials June 8 to work on a “path of progress.” The company reviewed, revised and resubmitted updated drawings to meet the corps’ suggestions.

Plans include restoring a portion of the channel that was reportedly damaged by the clearing work and creating an underground detention pond.

The plans also relocated a shared parking lot between the aquatic center and National Guard armory, North Georgia College & State University campus and Department of Driver Services facility planned next door.

Howell said the new parking lot location “actually makes it more convenient” for all facilities planned for the stretch of Pilgrim Mill, near Exit. 16 at Ga. 400.

The corps is reviewing the plans, which must also pass through the EPD.

Howell said while “the process can take as little as two to three weeks,” environmental experts he’s been working with suggest it could take more than two months.

There could be some back and forth with the new design work, he said, though “from this point, it would really just be fine tuning.”

E-mail Jennifer Sami at