03/21/08 — Rec center plans discussed

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Rec center plans discussed

By Anessa Myers
Published in News on March 21, 2008 1:46 PM

Members of the committee planning a proposed Community Recreation Center discussed variations of the plan at a meeting Thursday with architects.

Committee members met with representatives of Pearch, Brinkley, Cease + Lee to go over the design of the center.

Several said they believe three sections of the proposed building needed to be reconsidered -- the swimming pool, the concession area and the entrance.

Current plans don't call for a deep enough pool, city Parks and Recreation Director Sonya Shaw said.

"I feel like I would touch the ground," she said.

City Councilman Chuck Allen agreed.

"If I was in there, I would hit the bottom, and I don't need any help hitting the bottom," Allen said.

Architect Jennifer Attride said that some of the pool experts she spoke with considered the proposed pool depth to be adequate.

Ms. Attride said that increasing the depth would be hard for children to learn to swim in, and having different depths in the pool isn't suggested.

Mrs. Shaw said that children need a lower depth to swim in, but that the pool needed to be able to accommodate both them and lap swimmers.

"We need to have a combination," she said.

Another part of the building discussed Thursday was the concession area. Committee members said a small catering kitchen is needed, including an oven or some other type of food-warming system better than a mere microwave oven.

Current plans call for a kitchen area with a sink and coolers, a place that would sell pre-packaged foods and bottled water.

But Mrs. Shaw and Assistant City Manager Tasha Logan said they believe a larger kitchen with more amenities would allow the facility to provide more than just snack food to children in after-school programs, child care and special events.

"We need something," Mrs. Shaw said. "Children just can't eat snacks all the time."

Allen also said he believes a larger kitchen would be a good idea.

"It might be neat to have one of our buildings that has that capability," he said.

Ms. Attride pointed out the increased cost of such a kitchen area. She told the committee that health departments normally requires public facilities with such food preparation areas to also have a grease trap and a vent hood -- something that would add to the overall cost of the project.

"But those aren't deal breakers," Allen noted.

The committee agreed to allow Mrs. Shaw and Ms. Logan to continue discussion of a larger kitchen.

Committee members also decided that the entrance to the building should be larger to help keep people entering and leaving out of the rain.

Allen said he wants to extend the proposed canopy around the entrance to the proposed concrete island past the drop-off spot on Center Street.

"I think we should extend the canopy from the edge of the wall out toward that area," he said. "I want to get these people out of the weather."

Other members agreed and Ms. Attride said she would add the canopy extension to the plans and determine how much more that would cost.

The committee did agree on some items, such as the color of the brick for the building's exterior. The primary color will be red, which will cover the upper parts of the building, with tan-colored brick for the bottom.

Next to the tan brick on the south side of the building will be a patio area for residents to enjoy the outdoors and still close to the indoor pool. The patio will be cabana-type with a sun deck. An 8-foot-brick wall will be built parallel to the building as a barrier from the street, and wooden walls with slats will be built on the ends to allow the breeze to flow through the area while also providing a barrier. The patio will also have two gates for security. Landscaping around the walls will be an additional barrier to street traffic.

R.N. Rouse & Co. has submitted a construction estimate based on the current plans that totals $12.7 million, almost $1 million more than first proposed.

Ms. Attride said she expects the design plans to be complete by April, and construction to begin this summer.