System considers pool proposal

By Greg Gelpi

A corner of the Tara Stadium parking lot could be carved out to make room for an aquatic center.

The preliminary proposal offers a solution to the Clayton County school system, which parted ways from Clayton County in its joint venture to build an aquatic center.

The "very preliminary look" is a reworking of a project that is five years in the making and has yet to break ground, said Brian Miller, the director of facilities auxiliary services. The proposal is a design more suited for the school system and its need for a facility for its competitive swim teams.

The design includes seating for 528 fans overlooking the 50-meter competitive-length pool. The previous joint proposal called for seating for 320 to 325 people.

Facilities to accommodate diving, though, remains "up in the air," Miller said. The initial proposal does include a walking track around the upper perimeter of the facility and a warm-up pool that could possibly be used as a recreational pool for children.

Miller said the facility design has "everything we would want," but added that the "scissors" may be taken out when cost estimates come in.

The school system and county initiated efforts to design and build an aquatic center together, but broke off talks a month ago.

Both passed separate Special Purpose Local Option Sales Taxes asking for funding for a list of projects, including the aquatic center.

The school system and county accused each other for delays in the project, and the joint venture ended when the county asked for more funding from the school system. The two were to split costs for the construction of the aquatic center, but costs of construction materials continually rose before the two could finalize plans and lock in prices.

The split left the school system with $500,000 owed to the county already incurred from design costs.

County Chairman Crandle Bray said at the time that the county will build its own aquatic center without the help of the school system.

The school system currently uses the city of Forest Park's recreation pool, but Miller said that the school system is quickly outgrowing that facility due to the popularity of swimming in the county.