Clayton County aquatic center near completion

By Greg Gelpi

Plans for a Clayton County swimming complex are nearing completion.

The $8 million project, a cooperative endeavor between the Clayton County Board of Education and the Clayton County Board of Commissioners, could go to the county board for approval within 30 days, project manager Joe Lee said.

"We're about halfway through the design phase right now," Lee of the Lee Design and Management Group said.

The project will include a 50-meter Olympic-sized pool, a therapeutic pool, diving boards, locker rooms and stands to watch swim meets, he said.

A steel-framed building with split-faced bricks will encase the roughly 44,000 square-foot project as it sits aside the newly built $100 million Harold R. Banke Justice Center, Lee said.

"The design will not take away from the Justice Center," Lee said.

The Board of Education and Board of Commissioners are splitting the costs of the collaborative project.

One member of a committee appointed by County Board Chairman Crandle Bray to help plan the project sees millions of dollars being wasted by the final design.

Bob Lundquist, the father of two-time Olympic gold medallist Steve Lundquist, researched the costs of building the aquatics center and claims it can be built with better facilities at a lower cost.

"I've been involved with swimming so long it isn't even funny," he said, adding that he helped found some of the county's first swim teams.

For under $2 million, the county could build the same complex without the unnecessary expenses Bray has requested, Lundquist said. Bray prefers an architecture and design more in line with the Justice Center, despite the higher cost.

"Crandle wants it to be beautiful," he said. "It's good ole boy politics, how much money can you spend."

The project has paid about $390,000 for Lee's design budget, about half of which he has spent.

"I didn't expect to do it for free," Bray said. "Maybe (Lundquist) did."

Once ground is broken, the project should be complete within 12 months, Lee said.