Local News

Cary Aquatics Project Hopes To Stay Afloat

Posted February 6, 2006 8:39 a.m. EST

— Organizers are trying to keep their heads above water when it comes to an aquatic center project. They wanted to break ground in Cary this weekend, but rising construction costs are putting the project over budget and on hold.

The Triangle Aquatic Center is exploring ways to keep the project afloat.

For years, the town of Cary has wanted to take the plunge and build a public aquatic facility. While talk of the proposed Cary Aquatic Center stagnated, the Triangle Aquatic Center hopes to make a splash, first.

"It'll be a regional destination venue for competition," said Mike Curran, of the Triangle Aquatic Center.

That destination is still nothing but dirt and a sign. TAC, a non-profit, raised $16 million in donations to build behind Cary Towne Center, but rising construction costs pushed the project total to $20 million, which means the design for competitive, lap and open swimming is now in rough waters.

"You can't structurally keep it that way and save 4 million (dollars)," Curran said.

Curran sees two options -- shrink the size and use cheaper materials or scrap the competition component and keep it purely recreational. Meanwhile, Cary Mayor Ernie McAlister said the town's aquatic center is still on the radar.

"It's always been an initiative of the town," he said.

Designated funding from Wake County's hotel and meals tax fund will not kick in until 2007. With two public pool projects floating in the town of Cary, some might wonder: 'Why not pool those resources?' TAC organizers tried that, and they said the idea sank.

"Mayor McAlister was not supportive of that proposal, so we did not submit that," Curran said.

McAlister told WRAL the town council would be open to a public-private partnership.

"Our mission is to provide as much aquatic programming as broad a range of Cary citizens as possible," he said.

TAC said despite the cost setback, it hopes to break ground this summer and open by Fall 2007. McAlister said the town council will decide this year on what type of aquatic center it will pursue.