The Crossville City Council has some key decisions to make as it moves forward with a planned indoor recreation center project.
Key among those will be how to manage the construction process for the estimated $53 million facility and what type of pools to build and plan for.
Kim Chamberlin with Upland Design Group recommends the city select a general contractor to serve as a construction manager on the project, a process used by the state of Tennessee in their large construction projects.
“We’ve had projects where we’ve had trouble getting interested contractors to bid,” Chamberlin said. A recent school construction project in another county drew only one bid, he said.
“I personally called a dozen different contractors we’ve worked with,” Chamberlin said. Yet, only one bid. The current market makes it easier to negotiate projects rather than going through the competitive bid project.
Instead, Chamberlin suggested the city issue a request for proposals from general contractors for construction management services. It’s a two-part process. The first phase includes services, team members, experience. The second phase includes monthly fees. The proposals are reviewed and scored to provide a recommendation to the council.
“We very clearly spell out what we want to see in those qualifications,” Chamberlin said.
Chamberlin said he’d like to see the city issue the request for qualifications in January and be ready to bring a contractor on board in mid-March as the architectural firm is completing the schematic design for the building.
“We get them on board early,” Chamberlin said. “They become a team member. They help with budgets. They help with estimating.”
Estimating is quite difficult at the moment, Chamberlin said, as the cost of building materials fluctuates.
The construction manager then bids all the sub contracts for the building and acts as the general contractor overseeing construction. That bidding process is also an open process, with bid opportunities advertised.
“I think that’s going to get you the best project at the best price moving forward,” Chamberlin said.
Chamberlin estimated that the project could be reading to bid by the summer with the potential for an October 2023 ground breaking. He estimated 20 months for construction.
The council reviewed the proposed facility spaces — not a proposed design — to determine what types of space and activities the center will provide.
Darin Barr with Ballad King and Associates Ltd. said the council needs to decide if it wants an indoor pool or an indoor and an outdoor pool before moving forward.
Barr had suggested a single indoor pool — a leisure pool.
This type of pool offers zero-entry, a maximum depth around 4 feet, a current channel, some fun water features, and 2-4 dedicated swim lanes for lap swimming. The pool is kept warmer than traditional pools which makes it more suitable for water therapy and swim lessons, but the pool would not meet standards for competitive swim meets.
If the council decided to have only one pool, this type of pool appeals to more users, Barr said. It can maximize the regional draw of the facility, maximize use and offer more revenue generation.
“As a former competitive swimmer, I like big rectangles,” he said of traditional competitive swimming pools. “Guess who doesn’t? My two kids. They want to do something different.”
Those pools are “intimidating” to a lot of people, Barr said, and so the pools sit empty much of the time.
Council Member Scot Shanks questioned only one pool and a pool that could not support competitive swimming.
There is not currently a competitive swim program in the community or the school system.
Council Member Rob Harrison said it was a “chicken and egg” situation. Without a space to host or support a youth competitive swimming program, the school system didn’t have demand for such a program.
Barr estimated it would cost about $4 million to add a second indoor pool for competitive swimming. That pool would not be suitable for water therapy or other uses, he said.
Chamberlin said the facility master plan would include a plan for an outdoor pool in the future.
“It’s just a matter of when you want to do that,” he said.
As swimming is often a summer activity, Barr recommended the leisure pool be built outdoors with its water features. But indoor, he recommended two pools — a competitive swim pool and then a smaller pool that could be used for swim lessons, therapy and aquatic exercise classes. That pool would see much greater use than the competitive pool, Barr said.
Barr said he would develop information on different pool options for the council to consider. Until the issue of what kind and how many pools is determined, design can not move forward.
While the council had discussed the facility being self-supporting for ongoing operations, Barr said it is likely there will need to be a subsidy from the city to offset those expenses.
Exact costs will depend on final design and programs.
Barr recommended the following key spaces:
• a gymnasium with two basketball courts
• three-lane indoor walking/jogging track
• group fitness rooms
• weight room
• cardio room
• two multi-purpose rooms
• teen game room
• adventure activity space
• indoor playground
• youth program/after-school program space
The facility could also include drop-in childcare space, a catering or warming kitchen, locker rooms and restrooms, office space for the staff and lounge space.
The total facility would be just over 88,000 square feet, estimated at $550 per square foot. Estimated total cost — including equipment and furnishings — is $53.5 million
Harrison noted the council has not yet determined if it will build the facility, though it has been discussing various funding possibilities. Though he added he viewed the project as both economic and community development, helping to provide an amenity to attract families to the community.
The proposed site for the facility is property next to the John Deere dealership on Main St. and Livingston Rd. The city purchased the property in 2021 for $2.365 million for the 9.5-acre site.
The council has also tasked the city’s engineering department with conducting traffic studies on Livingston Rd. Those counts are necessary to evaluate a potential closing of the road behind the Main St. Church of Christ.
The city also owns 24 acres off Webb Ave. purchased earlier in 2021 for $540,000, initially purchased as a potential recreation center site, though that site was abandoned in favor of the Main St. site.