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Kingsport Aquatic Center expansion nearing completion

Matthew Lane • Apr 5, 2020 at 12:00 PM

KINGSPORT — Construction is winding down on a $2 million expansion at the Kingsport Aquatic Center, with officials saying the work should be completed in about a month’s time. The project includes a new outdoor pool, adjacent office space and a nearby pavilion.

And with the new amenities comes a rise in the entrance fees for the summer months beginning this season. The daily gate fee is going up $2 per person, while the season pass rates are increasing $25 for individuals and $50 for families.

Kari Matheney, the director of the Kingsport Aquatic Center, said the non-summer fees and the annual membership rates will not be going up this year.

ABOUT THE EXPANSION

The $2 million project began last summer and is the first major expansion of the aquatic center since it opened seven years ago. It includes a new outdoor pool and office suite at the front of the building and a shaded pavilion with restrooms adjacent to the existing outdoor entrance.

The pool has been designed to cater to both adults and teens, with a 180-person capacity and a 3 ½ to 4 ½ foot depth. The heated pool will include three 25-yard lanes for outdoor lap swimming, a circular social area with hydrotherapy jets, a seated bench area for outdoor water aerobics classes, and an area for water basketball and volleyball.

Around the pool, there will be room for additional seating of up to 60 lounge chairs. The pavilion will provide shaded seating for a dozen tables and will include three family changing restrooms. The office suite will be home to Matheney’s office, two other offices and some workroom space.

CONSTRUCTION PROGRESS

“Most of the stuff is winding down,” Matheney said. “The brick and mortar has pretty much been completed, the administrative building is up and the workers are tying in the last bit of electrical.”

The deck of the pool was poured last week and workers are finishing up the drains this week, getting everything cleaned up for the pool company to return and plaster the pool. Once that’s done, Matheney said, employees can fill the pool and start balancing the water with chemicals.

On Wednesday, workers were assembling the equipment for the pump room. The pavilion is more or less done, Matheney said, with the only remaining work being to install the accessories in the restrooms and place the tables and chairs in the covered space.

“It’s been a little crazy with the weather, but we’re hoping it’ll be done on time,” she said. “Depending on what happens with COVID-19, we’re still looking to be done and ready to open for the summer. Everyone is still able to come to work, and there’s been no issues with that.”

BATTLING THE CORONAVIRUS

Two weeks ago the City of Kingsport — like many other cities across the country — started canceling programs and events. Eventually the city closed offices and buildings and stopped all face-to-face contact with the public in many municipal facilities.

This, of course, included the Kingsport Aquatic Center, which had to temporarily send home all of its part-time employees. The facility canceled its spring swimming lessons and one swim team, scheduled for a meet in early May, decided to cancel its event. So far, nothing else has been canceled. Since then, the remaining full-time employees have not been simply treading water until the pandemic breaks.

“We’ve come in and sanitized anything from seven feet and down — the walls, floors, inside and out of the lockers. We’ve done a thorough cleaning on anything anyone could possibly touch,” Matheney said.

However, the aquatic center did not drain the pools. It would cost too much to refill and reheat them, and with the chemicals in the water, the pools are already safe to use, Matheney said.

For more information about the Kingsport Aquatic Center, visit www.swimkingsport.com.

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