The city is planning the first major expansion of the facility since it opened nearly six years ago. The plan is to build an outdoor pool and an office suite at the front of the center (adjacent to where the rocking chairs are located) and a pavilion with restrooms adjacent to the existing outdoor entrance.
Earlier this month, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen awarded a $2 million bid for the project to BurWil Construction Company (of Bristol, Tenn.). Assistant City Manager for Administration Chris McCartt said construction should begin this spring, though it will not likely wrap up before the end of the year.
An outdoor pool has been one of the most requested additions to the Aquatic Center, McCartt said, noting that the facility doesn’t have any outdoor pools that cater to adults or teens for activities. And the only pool with adult standing and soaking depths is the warm water pool, which is inundated with folks during the summer months.
Architectural drawings presented to the BMA show the new pool having three swim lanes of 25 yards in length with a depth of four to five feet. The drawings show it being a heated pool, approximately 2,700 square feet in size, with seating for exercise classes, a basketball goal, a volleyball net and a circular social space with hydrotherapy jets.
McCartt said the outdoor pool will extend right up to the sidewalk in some areas, with a slight buffer in other parts. Originally, Kingsport envisioned a splash pad going in at that location.
The new office suite will extend the footprint of the building to the left of the new outdoor pool. It will be adjacent to where a party room is currently located, near the Eastman Credit Union ATM.
The director’s office will be located in this new suite, along with two other offices for employees and some workroom space. McCartt said the Aquatic Center will not lose any rental space with the renovation.
The new pavilion will be a 1,560-square-foot covered space with ceiling fans and room for 16 picnic tables. It will be attached to the existing roof of the outdoor lifeguard office.
McCartt said it will also include a walk-in freezer and three family restrooms. The existing outdoor restrooms and the turnstiles will remain.
“When you’re looking at when we opened the facility, this is a timely addition,” McCartt said. “What we have to do in this type of facility is be able to keep it fresh and be realistic to the fact that we have to watch the budget and our capital needs.”
Since the Aquatic Center opened, there have been additions, just not ones of this caliber. Kingsport added an Aqua Run inflatable and climbing walls to the indoor area and some outdoor cabanas last year.