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Camden sports complex design to be revealed Tuesday

Posted: November 18, 2011 3:41 p.m.
Updated: November 21, 2011 5:00 a.m.

Camden City Council and citizens will finally get to see what a proposed sports complex might look like during council’s meeting Tuesday. That’s when council’s Sports Complex Advisory Committee will present plans designed by JHS Architecture Integrated Design. The committee will also present two design alternatives based on JHS’ full plans.

Committee members  Woody Cleveland, Don Terrell, George Sensor, Rev. Ellis White Jr., Kim Younghans, Bruce Brown and Bruce Little will attend Tuesday’s meeting. A thick set of attachments to Tuesday’s proposed agenda did not make it clear whether one of the committee members or City Manager Kevin Bronson (a non-voting ex-officio committee member) would make the presentation. The attachments indicated committee members would be on hand to answer council’s questions. There are two other ex-officio committee members: the YMCA of Columbia’s Jody Jernigan and Kershaw County Planning and Zoning Director John Newman.

Although the YMCA is being considered as a third-party, non-profit manager of the sports complex, and while the committee discussed how the YMCA might utilize the facility, the committee’s attachments indicated it would not be making any recommendations in regard to the YMCA’s involvement.

Those attachments consist of a cover memo from the committee to council outlining the alternatives, minutes of all five committee meetings, the full JHS plans; interim drawings showing how the final proposal evolved; and memos from Bronson to the committee.

JHS’ full plans call for a 44,000-square-foot facility with exterior brick work compatible with both Camden architecture and an echo of Boylan-Haven-Mather Academy which once existed on the site. The complex would take up a little more than one-fourth of the property the city purchased early this year. Parking would be available on the south (front) and east sides of the property with the remainder of the land taken up by two full-size soccer/athletic fields. A possible walkway could connect the complex with Kershaw County School District-owned tennis courts on York Street.

Inside, JHS’ plans include an 8,400-square-foot gymnasium with elevated walking track; 4,700-square-foot wellness center with exercise equipment; a separate spinning room; 2,300-square-foot aerobics room; and nearly 1,600-square-foot community (meeting/conference) room

Also included is a child care center with a two-story playground.

Second only in size to the gymnasium, JHS’ plans also include a 7,600-square-foot indoor pool space. The committee appears to be recommending a shell be built for the pool but not to construct the pool itself at this time. Instead, the space could be used as an additional multi-purpose room until such time as membership reaches a “critical mass” to construct and open the pool.

Earlier this year, YMCA of Columbia CEO Bryan Madden said a research firm determined a newly-opened Y in Camden could expect to take on nearly 900 members. According to the minutes of the committee’s Nov. 2 meeting, Jernigan told members the YMCA would require a membership of between 1,500 to 1,800 people to operate a pool.

The first alternative the committee is scheduled to present proposes to build everything in the full JHS plans except the pool shell. However, Jernigan stated during at least one meeting that while money would be saved during initial construction, it would cost between 1.4 to 1.6 times more to add that portion of the building later.

The full JHS plans would cost between $5 million and $6.2 million to construct. Removing the pool shell from the equation would reduce that cost to between $4.2 and $4.5 million.

According to the committee’s cover letter, the second alternative would be a “scaled-down” facility to include only a gymnasium, community room, soccer fields and the elevated walking track. Such a facility would cost approximately $2 million to construct. The committee indicates in the memo two concerns with scaling the project back to that level: that the city would still not be able to operate the facility alone and that the YMCA would be less likely to operate it.

The committee’s report is the last item on council’s agenda Tuesday, following an executive session to obtain legal advice.

There are no votes on the sports complex expected Tuesday.

Other items on Tuesday’s agenda include:

• employee recognitions;

• public forum;

• second and final reading of an ordinance annexing the new KCSD offices; and

• consideration of a bid award for deadwood tree removal to be funded by a $9,250 grant from the S.C. Forestry Commission.

Tuesday’s meeting begins at 8:30 a.m. on the second floor of Camden City Hall, 1000 Lyttleton St., and is open to the public.

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