Cherokee County’s New Aquatic Center: More than just swimming

Aquatic Center 2 MMMorgan M.-Staff Writer

The summer is near, and the temperature is slowly increasing, which means it is time to put away the coats and break out the swimsuits. Obviously, the most popular activity to do when it gets hot outside is to visit the pool, and with that in mind, Cherokee County has recently completed construction of an aquatic center on Sixes Road.

The new, innovative aquatic center has been built on 37 acres located on Gresham Mill Parkway just off Sixes Road near I-575. Commissioner Harry Johnston said, “We only really need 10 good acres.” However, the county was able to acquire more land, and with the extra 27 acres, they plan on keeping it untouched for wildlife. Along with the decision to leave the wildlife alone, county commissioners believe that the vastness of the aquatic center is going to come into good use for the surrounding high school swim teams. Commissioner Jim Hubbard said, “There was so much uncertainty with this site. This is much more central to the high schools. It is not any more of a drive for Etowah and Woodstock; it is convenient for Sequoyah and is not too bad for Cherokee and Creekview.” Therefore, as a whole, the new aquatic center is a convenient and pleasant addition for all of Cherokee County.

For a project this immense, the budget for the aquatic center was originally $19.8 million, including land, design services, construction, equipment and furnishings. With so much time and money spent on it, the aquatic center includes a multitude of features in its 48,000 square foot indoor facility and its 18,000 square foot outdoor leisure pool and deck area. One of the features of the indoor recreational area is a 50-meter competition pool with seating for 700 people; this pool is equivalent to the size of an Olympic Racing Pool. On top of that, in the indoor facility there is an indoor 25-yard recreational pool with warmer water for therapy, exercise and instruction; two indoor poolside classrooms and party rooms; a spacious lobby; and seating areas with pool overlook.

Aquatic Center MM

In addition to the incredible indoor space, another fantastic feature of the aquatic center is the vast outdoor pool with two slides and a place for the children to play. The pool has a play area that consists of water cannons, a zero-depth entry area with geysers and deck sprays, a current channel and basketball hoops and plenty of seating for the entire family. Finally, a concession stand, locker rooms and family restrooms will be provided for both the indoor and outdoor facilities. Although most of the original plans have been followed, there have been a few assets dropped, such as the competition diving equipment. Junior Kennedy Reeg says, “Even though the diving equipment is not going to be a part of the aquatic center any more, I am still excited about the Olympic-sized pool so I can practice for [swim] meets during off season.”

Having a new state-of-the-art aquatic facility does come with a price tag for use. For daily admission, children age two and under enter for free; for ages 3 to 17, the fee is $5; for ages 18 to 54, the fee is $6; and for ages 55 + the fee is $5. The yearly admissions fee for ages 3 to 17 and for those 55+ is $195; for ages 18 to 54, the annual admissions fee is $295. For a family of four, the annual admissions fee is $425. Although these fees for the facility may seem extensive to some, it is a brand new facility with a vast amount of benefits that come with it.

The aquatic center held its open house and grand opening on Saturday, May 11th, and a ribbon-cutting ceremony took place on Thursday, May 9th. Numerous people are excited about the opening and cannot wait to be able to swim year-round. Sophomore Katya Gaffney said, “I love the fact that there’s going to be an indoor facility so that I can take my little sis to go swimming in the winter when I babysit her.” Many people agree that the indoor facility will become a very useful asset during the winter.

While the aquatic center offers a wonderful place to swim and play, it would also be a fantastic place to work. The facility is still looking for a few more candidates to fill positions of lesson instructor, lifeguards, and a part-time on duty manager. These are great opportunities for part-time jobs over the summer.

With all the work that went into getting the aquatic center up and running, it is safe to say all of Cherokee County is thrilled to have a new attraction to add to their list of activities. Cherokee County residents are excited they will be able to get their swim on.

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