The Town Council voted Nov. 7 to do away with a planned brick-and-mortar pool enclosure for the Morrisville Aquatics and Fitness Center in an effort to curb costs of an increasingly expensive renovation.
Jerry Allen, the town’s director of parks, recreation and cultural resources, said the town could save about $1 million by forgoing a traditional roof and instead using a vinyl or glass-paneled dome to cover the pool. The pool is still slated to be expanded from four lanes to eight.
“Up until now, everything had been concrete and steel, but there are many options on the market,” Allen said. “We could have a permanent metal frame, or air-supported vinyl. We could also look at glass or other material panels on metal frames.”
The center’s existing pool has a removable vinyl dome that covers the pool during the winter months. The new roof, no matter what it’s made out of, would be permanent, although some designs could include removable panels for ventilation during the summer.
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The $6.6 million price tag presented to the council last winter for the renovation project exceeded the $5.7 million bond passed in 2012 that is supposed to pay for that project and expanded parking at the facility plus new tennis courts nearby.
Revised cost estimates that take a less-expensive pool roof into account should leave the town with enough money to complete both projects. Some council members had concerns about the longevity and operational costs – heating and cooling, for instance – associated with the scaled-back enclosure, but the council ultimately directed Allen and his staff to pursue designs within that framework.
“When the bond referendum passed, I saw it as the voters voting on what they were hoping to get and less on the amount of dollars,” Councilman TJ Cawley said. “Everything costs more now, and this is a good compromise, but I don’t want to compromise the long-term structural integrity.
“But if this moves the project forward, I’m all for it,” he added.
In a best-case scenario, Allen said, construction could begin in the fall of 2017, assuming the town passes a project ordinance. That would give Morrisville time to re-apply for a $500,000 state grant toward the project, which it applied for but failed to win this year.
Competition Center update
Town Manager Martha Paige said a proposal has been drafted that more clearly outlines the town’s relationship to the Western Wake Competition Center, a major athletic facility to be built in Morrisville.
The town agreed to a public-private partnership with its developer in 2013, but without specifying who would be responsible for which parts of the necessary road improvements nearby. Construction has been delayed as a result of this miscommunication.
Jeff Ammons, the Competition Center’s developer, thought the town would assume all responsibility for road infrastructure, whereas the town understood its primary contribution as being its existing plans to extend McCrimmon Parkway, which will provide the primary point of access to Ammons’ property.
But after talks this summer and fall, Paige presented a proposal Nov. 7 that will have the town meeting Ammons halfway on certain road improvement requirements.
The first, she said, would be for the town to explicitly assume full responsibility for all of McCrimmon Parkway Extension.
The second would be to strike the requirement that Ammons contribute to the construction of an east-west connecting road between the new section of McCrimmon Parkway and Nova Drive. Earlier in the meeting, the council passed a motion to remove that road from the town’s transportation plan for the time being, which effectively means it won’t be built in the near future.
Finally, Paige said, the proposed agreement would not include traffic improvement requirements to nearby roads that would be made redundant once the new segment of McCrimmon Parkway begins to improve congestion in the area.
Normally, developers are required to offset their projects’ traffic impact on surrounding roads. But because the Competition Center is being built in conjunction with a major road project, the new facility’s net impact on traffic is expected to be negligible.
Gargan: 919-460-2604; @hgargan