Searcy swim complex under construction

By Syd Hayman Published October 23, 2016 at 12:00 a.m.
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Matt Johnson / Contributing Photographer

Mike Parsons, left, director of Searcy Parks and Recreation, talks with Clay Brumett, project superintendent for Hydco Construction, about the progress of the $5.1 million public-pool complex.

— It has been 50 years since the city of Searcy has built a new pool for its community, but next year, the city will welcome a brand-new, modern swim complex.

“Actually, a swimming pool for the city of Searcy has been talked about for over 10 years,” said Mike Parsons, director of Searcy Parks and Recreation.

Parsons said the site of the city’s original pool, located on Moss Street next to Berryhill Park, will become the site of the city’s new library. The under-construction swim complex is a $5.1 million project on Higginson Street.

Parsons said the former swim facility had pool parties, but it was so run down that the space was limited in what it could offer patrons. Having an updated swim complex will keep poolgoers inside the city limits, Parsons said.

“It’s going to add revenue. We’ll have people coming in from other areas,” he said. “It’ll give our citizens something here to do. More kids will learn how to swim. More kids will have pool parties.”

The new swim complex will have indoor and outdoor amenities. Inside, along with having offices and a concession stand, the facility will have one multipurpose pool and one therapy pool, which will have wheelchair access and can be used for exercise classes for the elderly. Parsons said this allows the facility to be open for more than just three months a year.

“Pretty much, it can be used for anything,” he said.

The multipurpose pool will be 60 feet by 75 feet, and the therapy pool will be 60 feet by 30 feet. Outside, there will be a play structure for children and a zero-entry pool.

Originally, the plan was to have just an outdoor pool facility.

“Then it went from an outside pool to two inside pools and an outside structure,” Parsons said. “A lot of cities started with just one single pool and then built on to it years later.”

Parsons said Searcy residents have spoken up about what they would like to see in a new swim complex.

“Our process is taking a little longer than normal, but that’s because we’ve gotten so much public input into what people would like to see,” Parsons said. “With all the public input we got, we feel we can hit any age and any aspect of people’s lives with this facility.”

Perry Carr, vice president of ETC Engineers & Architects in Little Rock, the firm for the design and planning of the complex, said his firm also worked with public input.

“In this particular case, we’ve been working with the city for several years and developing a plan, meaning what would the public want in terms of a new pool?” he said. “We, along with the mayor and the City Council and the Parks Department and the city engineers, went and had public meetings and individual meetings with interested parties, such as the swim-team coach for the school and those kind of people.”

Chad Price, Searcy Parks and Recreation aquatics director, is helping the department research what facilities in Cabot, Heber Springs and Jacksonville charge for entry and rentals.

“Eventually, we’d like to be self-sufficient, but we don’t want to charge outrageous prices,” Parsons said.

ETC Engineers has worked on about 30 water projects — big and small — around the state over the years. Carr said the swim complex will allow the city to offer more events.

“What it brings to the town is the ability that they didn’t have before to do lots of things,” Carr said. “A swim meet brings hundreds, if not thousands, of people to town. I see [the new facility] as an economic tool for the community, in addition to being an amenity that the local public can use on a daily basis. It gives them a year-round facility that they didn’t have before.”

Currently, the floor and plumbing for the multipurpose pool and the therapy pool are complete. The severity of the upcoming winter will affect the completion date for the entire complex.

“We were hoping for mid-July, but it could possibly be earlier if we don’t have too bad of a winter,” Parsons said.

Parsons said he looks forward to the facility opening to the public.

“It’s taken a long time to get to the point we’re at, but now that we’re here, people are getting excited,” Parsons said. “Hopefully, before too long, we’ll be able to open up and let people in.”

Staff writer Syd Hayman can be reached at (501) 244-4307 or shayman@arkansasonline.com.

Staff Writer Syd Hayman can be reached at 501-244-4342 or shayman@arkansasonline.com.

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