By Dedra Cordle
The aquatics center in the Vaughn E. Hairston YMCA is a popular destination.
Each day, hundreds of people enjoy the warm waters and the long lanes in a variety of ways.
From 7 to 11 a.m., many older adults congregate in the pool area to catch up with friends, swim a few laps or pick up a noodle and get their daily dose of exercise. At certain times on specific days, dozens filters in for aerobics classes, arthritis classes, and learning how to swim classes.
The site is also host to many high school swim meets and is the training location of the Central Crossing Comets.
The aquatics center is increasing in demand each year, and to say its viability is important to the plethora of people who enjoy its offerings would be an understatement.
“It means so much to us,” said aquatics director Kathy Cook.
Cook has worked at the YMCA in the village of Urbancrest for the past 15 years and much of her role has been working with the aquatics programs. She said she has seen its importance in the daily lives of the center’s members expand, but is worried about its future if they cannot get funding to repair the deteriorating walls of the swimming area.
“They’re in dire need of repair,” she said.
According to village Mayor Joseph Barnes Sr., the swimming area has seen limited repairs since the center was constructed in the 1970s and it is past time for an upgrade.
Because the repair project is estimated to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, Barnes said he is hoping that a recently made request to the Franklin County Economic Development and Planning Department for a Community Development Block Grant would provide the funds necessary to improve the community staple.
The village had requested a CDBG for this project last year, but it was rejected. Brian Coghlan, vice-president of the surveying and engineering firm Bird and Bull said it was likely due to the fact that they had made a request for too much money.
“We included the pavilion with it last year and I think that is why it was rejected,” he said.
Coghlan said they are currently requesting $250,000 to make “major masonry repairs” around the pool area.
“The walls are in are a state of serious structural degradation.”
He said the culprit is age and the humidity of the indoor facility.
“I would like it if we could put a dehumidifier at the site, but that’s not part of the grant,” he said. “Instead, that will have to be a future improvement.”
Coghlan said $175,000 of the potential grant money would go toward repairing the walls, while the rest would be used to install energy efficient lighting throughout the building.
Like Barnes, Coghlan said he believes there is a strong chance they will receive some funds to make repairs at the center.
“We’ll hear more in January, but I think we have a decent shot this year,” he said.