Progress continues on new community, aquatics center

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BATESVILLE — Residents of Batesville can see the results of the Community Development Tax Initiative they passed in 2012 as the new community center and aquatics facility progresses toward completion.

“The facility is about 70 to 75 percent complete right now,” Mayor Rick Elumbaugh said. He added that the center is projected to open this fall.

Construction crews have installed playground equipment for the outdoor portion of the aquatics facility and are working on tiling the indoor and outdoor pools, painting the gym and multipurpose building, and installing windows. Flooring for the gym and indoor walking track has been ordered, and Elumbaugh said crews are preparing to pour the slab and erect the steel frame for the bathhouse, which will connect the other facility buildings.

The facility was part of Elumbaugh’s vision for the city when he first came into office in 2007.

“I wanted to focus on infrastructure, but also quality of life for residents,” he said. “This facility will not only give the citizens of Batesville opportunities for health and fitness that they’ve never had before, but it will also be a huge economic-development factor for the city. This will be one of the deciding factors for people and businesses considering moving to this area.”

Before mobilizing efforts for the Batesville center, Elumbaugh visited several similar facilities, including the Paragould Aquatics Center that was built by ETC Engineers & Architects Inc., the same company that is building the Batesville center.

“Every area that we looked at that had a facility similar to this, the hotel industry expanded. We’re in the second full season of using our youth baseball and soccer complexes, and we saw from our first baseball tournament what an impact these types of recreational facilities can have on community business. This will be something our business community can use as a recruiting tool to bring professionals to our area,” Elumbaugh said.

The center will also create job opportunities for the area. Jeff Owens, Batesville parks director, said he anticipates hiring 40 to 50 people to staff the center.

The approximately $22 million facility has three levels. The ground floor houses the gym, which includes three basketball courts and can be used as a multipurpose space for concerts, conferences and graduations. The area will seat 2,000 to 2,500 people, and there is a full-service kitchen available for catered events. The facility will also feature a racquetball court.

The group exercise room and weight and cardio rooms are on the next level. Elumbaugh said group exercise classes such as yoga and Zumba will be offered. The top level houses meeting and board rooms, and there is also a balcony space that Elumbaugh said could be used for wedding receptions or similar gatherings.

The aquatics portion of the facility features both indoor and outdoor spaces. The indoor aquatics center, which will be available for year-round use, includes a heated therapy pool, an eight-lane pool and an indoor splash pad that can be rented for birthday parties. The seasonal outdoor aquatics facility features a splash pad, water slides, a wading pool, a dive pool and a lazy river.

“The biggest thank you for this project goes to the citizens of Batesville,” Elumbaugh said. “This center belongs to the community, and it’s going to give our citizens opportunities for a very good quality of life.”

Shared news courtesy of http://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2016/apr/24/progress-continues-new-community-aquatics-center/?f=threerivers

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