KINGSPORT — Gold Star Fitness owner Stan Pace is diving back into the aquatic center issue. But it’s not what you think.
Pace announced last week he is planning to begin the process of building an Olympic-sized indoor pool at one of his GSF locations. GSF has four locations in Kingsport and one in Rogersville, and Pace is also the owner of the Club at Ridgefields.
“Several years ago, before I was even aware of what the city was going to do, my long-term plan was to start looking at the feasibility of putting in a larger indoor pool,” Pace said. “I started talking with pool developers, but then the (city’s) aquatic center came about and I put (our project) on hold.”
Kingsport’s aquatic center — under construction since December — will be located behind the Cattails driving range off Wilcox Drive and include two parts — a 50,000-square-foot indoor/outdoor aquatic facility adjacent to a new YMCA Wellmont Center.
In 2008, city officials sought management proposals for the aquatic center from the YMCA, GSF and the Great Body Company. The YMCA and GBC responded, and ultimately the YMCA was selected.
Pace has been critical of the aquatic center and YMCA co-locating and recently sought information on what type of arrangement the city would have with other fitness centers for access to the aquatic center.
After learning the city would give GSF the same access deal as the YMCA (at a cost of 10 percent of its membership fees), Pace said the deal was not feasible for him and his members, noting at the time he would no longer be concerned with the aquatic center issue.
“There’s not many businesses that could start paying 10 percent of what they’re bringing in. It would be more cost effective to have our own facility at our own location,” Pace said. “The proposal the city offered was not wise for my membership and the business itself. I realized I need to pick right back up where I was when I put it on hold.”
Though GSF has a small indoor pool at its American Way location and a therapeutic pool at its Brookside Drive location, Pace said there is a demand and a desire from his members to have a lap pool. Ridgefields also has an outdoor pool near the clubhouse.
At this point, Pace estimates the project will be a 24-month process from getting infrastructure costs and bids to construction and opening. A location has not been selected yet. Originally, Pace envisioned the project taking place at the American Way location, but since adding Ridgefields to his roster — which has the space — the indoor facility could potentially work at that site.
“Our water program is exploding at the seams, and our members need that,” Pace said. “It appears the city is looking more for a tourist-type facility. What I have to provide to my members is more for exercise and lap swimming. It’s time for us to expand, and we need to do our own thing.
“My focus has to be taking care of the thousands of GSF members we have. That has to be my priority.”