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Why not build near the old Walter B. pool?

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Two sites originally were considered for the county’s new aquatics facility/water park. One was the old state prison farm property near the Walter B. Williams Jr. Park gymnasium and main ball fields, and the other was the site of the old Walter B. Pool, located near the bottom tennis courts.

The old prison farm property eventually won out. County Manager Carlos Tobar told The Baldwin Bulletin this week that the old prison farm property was selected by county commissioners for two reasons – walkability and size.

“We wanted to create continuity between the gym and the ball fields and the aquatics facility, where people can sort of walk back and forth,” Tobar said. “Lets face it. It would’ve been quite a hike (to walk from the site of the old Walter B. pool to the new aquatics facility/water park).”

The site of the old prison property also offered much more land and built-in parking. Although the new water park by no means will be Six Flags or White Water, there will still be a need for ample parking, said Tobar. The entrance to the new water park will be located directly across from the large existing parking lot that borders Ga. 22, which is where aquatics facilitywater park guests will park, once completed.

About the facility

The county’s yet-to-be-named aquatics facility/water park is scheduled for a May 2022 grand opening, and construction is expected to rev up this summer. The idea, according to Tobar, is to provide recreation during the warm-weather months and not lose money at the same time. This is why the county commission is moving forward with a “water park” concept, which ultimately will be similar to the one in nearby Dublin.

The ultimate plan is for the facility to feature a swimming pool that doubles as a landing area for two large water slides, as well as a “lazy river.” For the time being, however, the county commission is focusing on a smaller-scale “Phase 1,” which will be designed “for the 13 and under crowd,” according to Tobar. This is the “phase” that is scheduled to open in the spring of 2022, and it would include two smaller slides, a “bucket drop,” as well as an adjoining splash pad with more traditional splash pad features.

The Phase 1 price tag is expected to come in at around $1.3 million, based on upcoming bids, and it would be funded through the current round of SPLOST. Also included will be a concession stand and restroom. Admission will be charged, although discounted “season passes” are expected to be available.

Phase 2, meanwhile, would include a “lazy river,” two large slides with adjoining swimming pool, as well as larger restroom/changing facilities, which is required by law. In theory, theory, Phase 2 would not open until 2025 at the earliest, and the second and final phase would require a SPLOST renewal by voters in 2024.

The estimate for Phase 2 has been placed at roughly $2.2 million, bringing the estimate for the total project to $3.5 million.

In the mean time, Tobar said that the county will continue to contract with Georgia College for use of the Centennial Center pool during summertime weekends. Also, swimming lessons will continued to be taught at the Centennial Center pool for local children.

“Our intent is to build a pool, but until we can build a pool and have the resources to do it, the community will be able to go to the college and swim for free and receive free swimming lessons for our kid,” Commissioner Henry Craig previously said during an early-March county commission meeting.