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Aquatic center now in 'final, finishing stage'

Matthew Lane • Apr 16, 2013 at 9:33 AM

KINGSPORT — The Kingsport aquatic center is in the finishing stage of construction, and in less than a month the facility should be complete and open for business.

Frank Brewer, Kingsport’s project manager for the aquatic center project, gave his final monthly report to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen Monday afternoon.

“The project is in the final, finishing stage,” Brewer said, noting Monday was his last presentation to the BMA. Brewer has been giving monthly updates on the project since construction began in December 2011. “I’ve enjoyed working on the project and I’m grateful for the opportunity. It’ll be a fine facility and I’m confident it will be well-received by the community.”

Kingsport’s aquatic center, located behind The Cattails driving range off Wilcox Drive, is a 50,000-square-foot facility with indoor and outdoor pools, slides and a lazy river. The facility is co-located with the new YMCA Wellmont Center and both are scheduled to open by the middle of May.

A status update on the project from Brewer has the painting at 90 percent complete and flooring at 95 percent complete; the kitchen has been installed, lighting has been installed with some adjustments and the bleachers are complete. Brewer continued by saying the framing of the exterior canopies has been completed with all three indoor pools seeing substantial progress over the past month.

“In the past few days and this week, the site is being cleared and storage units and trailers have been moved off,” Brewer said. “The tile for all three pools was completed early and all three pools have been filled 10 days ahead of schedule.”

As for the outdoor water features, Brewer said the concrete for the pool, decking and lazy river was finished last week with crews preparing for the final surface work. The gate house is expected to be completed by April 26, the irrigation system is nearly complete and the parking lot is 95 percent done.

The top coat of pavement should go down this week and will make a great deal of difference in the overall look of the site, Brewer said, adding that landscaping materials are on site and work is under way.

Kingsport is planning to hold a ribbon cutting ceremony for the aquatic center on May 17. The YMCA is having a soft opening from May 10 to May 14 for current members and a grand opening on May 15. Brewer said the facility will be substantially complete by May 3 and a certificate of occupancy would be sought by then.

However, work will continue on the site for up to two months afterward as crews wrap up the last of the “punch list” items, Brewer said.

“The pre-punch list work has started and the architect is reviewing the job site. We fully expect to be adding items to the list after substantial completion has been achieved, but work will continue for about an additional month after occupancy,” Brewer said. “The contractor is aware they will have to manage through this process and work around a fully operational facility.”

Brewer concluded by saying the contractor cannot guarantee all equipment issues will be identified before the city takes possession of the facility since the equipment cannot be tested under full load and full occupancy.

Chris McCartt, assistant to the city manager, said at peak capacity the lazy river would be able to accommodate 245 people while the indoor facility could handle 600 people. To date, the city has used 850,000 gallons of water to fill the pools at the aquatic center, and when all is said and done over 1 million gallons of water will be used to fill all of the water features at the facility, McCartt said.

It took two fire hoses, 31 hours to fill the indoor 50 meter pool, McCartt said.

When asked about the city’s expectations for the facility during the first few months, McCartt said he anticipates the aquatic center being at capacity at least during the weekends and at peak hours, such as lunch time and evening.

“The biggest request is swimming lessons as people plan out their summers and then birthday party rentals and then water aerobics. We’re going to have quite a bit of activity right out of the chute,” McCartt said.

Kingsport has received more than 100 applications for the 75 lifeguard positions at the aquatic center, an assistant manager and pool mechanic have been hired and the facility’s website (www.swimkingsport.com) went live on Monday.

The aquatic center is a $26.3 million project composed of two parts.

Kingsport’s portion includes a 50,000-square-foot indoor facility (natatorium) with a 50-meter competition/lap pool and three spring boards, a zero-entry 25-yard warm water pool, and a leisure pool with slide. The outdoor elements will include two water slides, a lazy river, climbing structure, beach volleyball court and concession stand.

Adjacent to this facility will be the new YMCA Wellmont Center — a two-story, 35,000-square-foot wellness center with fitness and exercise equipment, gymnasium, a multi-level indoor playground, outdoor playground and ChildWatch area (for pre-schoolers). The facility also includes a multi-purpose room for meetings and classes, space for cardio, stretch and strength exercises, free weights area, cycling studio and space for group exercise, such as Zumba, pilates and yoga.

The cost of the facility is estimated to be $22.5 million, with Kingsport’s portion being $16.9 million and the YMCA’s being $5.6 million. Including design and engineering costs and more than 50 acres of wetlands mitigation, the total cost of the project for Kingsport is approximately $19.3 million; for the YMCA the total is approaching $7 million.

Kingsport has also budgeted $500,000 to build a mobility path down Wilcox Drive to the aquatic center. Eastman Chemical Company donated the 15.8 acre site to the city for the aquatic center project, estimating the land was worth approximately $5.5 million.

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