By Beth Lawrence


A representative of Clark Nexsen architectural firm presented the Jackson County Board of Commissioners with an update on plans for an indoor pool during the December work session.

The firm gathered information and feedback from various groups involved in deciding what the pool might look like and what functions it would serve and gave the members of the board a few options to consider.

“What we’ve been doing over the last few months is we’ve been gathering information from the working groups,” Chad Roberson told the board.

Clark Nexsen met with interested parties such as swim teams and Parks and Recreation board and staff in October.

Finally, the group took a look at the existing building at the county-owned Cullowhee Recreation Center to determine how much work would be needed to add a pool.

The firm developed two possible plans.

“There are some site considerations that you have … a number of considerations that we go through as we’re going through this process are the entry sequence, the approach that you have, some of the views and the parks that are currently available there, the adjacency to the existing facility and how that will impact the new facility, the topography and the site constraints that we’re facing there, vehicular circulation and then connections back to the existing park amenities,” Roberson said. “Ultimately we look at the building and how it’s placed on the site so that we can take advantage of solar heating we might get naturally or some of the natural daylight.”

Designers also looked at prevailing winds so swimmers could go outside during swimming events and not be too cold. They considered how space might be used for parties, how the competition pool might be used and leisure activities.

The firm came up with design that might work for the area. One is a leisure pool perhaps including a basketball area, a shallow end for smaller children and water aerobics and a vortex for resistance training and physical therapy and perhaps a volleyball area.

A competition pool would include a 25-yard, six lane pool.

The firm also considered a handicap accessible ramp at different depths.

The first option places the pool facility on the south side of the existing building. The new building would be about 31,000 square feet including two pools, locker rooms, competition seating, party rooms and work areas.

“The challenge with creating a competition pool and leisure pool is that the water temperatures are different … so they tend to not do one or the other very well,” Roberson said.

Commissioner Gayle Woody expressed concern about having two pools.

“Does the fact that we’re looking at two pools double the cost?” she asked.

Roberson said that there would be an increased cost to operate two pools but did not specify an amount. A design with two pools would better meet the varied needs of everyone who might use the facility, he said.

Parks and Recreation Director Rusty Ellis added that having two pools would allow the county to generate revenue from recreational users and parties while swim meets were taking place.

The plans also take advantage of the mountain views on the site.

Designers tried to work with requests to create a single entry point so that events might take place in the pool area and leave the rest of the building open to other users, Roberson said.

The second option was to locate the building on the north side of the current building. That design would create a new entry point to the current recreation center.

The second design would allow parts of the building to be shut down when not in use.

The board directed Roberson to price the option that places the aquatics facility on the north side of the current building because it also allows for extra parking to be added.

The next step for Clark Nexsen is to develop budgets for the approved concept and complete an operational study to give commissioners and the public an understanding of the cost to manage the pool and develop concept images.

Clark Nexsen will talk to the board again in February.