Tupelo OKs aquatic center contract

TUPELO – The city moved forward with plans for a new Olympic-size swimming pool Tuesday by approving a contract with JBHM Architects.
The Tupelo-based firm will handle the first phase of the estimated $7 million project to build an indoor aquatic facility. It will replace the outdated pool at Rob Leake City Park.
The City Council voted unanimously on the contract.
“We are so excited that we get to go forward,” said Ann Blair Huffman, president of the Tupelo Aquatic Club, who was at the meeting with about a dozen other supporters. “There is hope on the horizon for a new pool.”
Phase one involves preliminary drawings, site selection and cost estimates. This portion of the contract will not exceed $100,000, said Joey Henderson, principal of JBHM Architects of Tupelo.
Phases two through four involve construction documents, soliciting bids for construction and construction itself. The whole process could take more than a year.
Tupelo’s current and only public indoor swimming facility has an aging dome – or bubble – that will need replacing within two years. A new bubble will cost $800,000.
Instead, recreation and aquatics officials want to build an entirely new pool that they say will draw competitions and tourism dollars to Tupelo.
The city will pay for the architect with cash raised as part of a 2007 bond issue. But it likely will require a new 15-year bond issue to cover the entire pool project.
It would not require a tax increase.
“We’ve gotten so far before and always had our legs chopped off,” said Don Lewis, director of Tupelo Parks and Recreation. “This puts us farther than we’ve ever gotten before.”
Contact Emily Le Coz at (662) 678-1588 or emily.lecoz@djournal.com.

Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal