After years of study and plan revisions, Hilton Head town officials say they're ready to expand the Island Recreation Center.
Town Council unanimously approved on Tuesday a revised plan and cost estimates prepared by Lee & Parker Architects and The FWA Group.
The project, expected to cost the town about $6 million, would be completed in phases, likely beginning in 2016 and 2017, according to town public projects and facilities director Scott Liggett. He said he intends to ask council this spring to authorize money in next fiscal year's budget so the phases can be designed.
"When we started this process, my girls were freshmen in high school, and now they've graduated from college and are moving on to graduate school in the fall," Hilton Head Island Recreation Association board president Bubba Gillis told council. "It's something that's been needed for a long time. I was hoping they would be able to use the expanded facilities.
"Now, I'm hoping my grandchildren will be able to use it."
To which councilwoman Kim Likins replied: "Bubba, they'll get to use it when they move back."
Council directed staff last spring to work with the consultants to strike an additional pool and splash pad from the plan.
The pool and splash pad won't be built, but a new gym with an elevated running track will. The project also includes new parking, a playground, restrooms, field lighting and a new dome to enclose the center's outdoor pool during cold months. The existing facilities, including the gym, will remain.
The town would likely borrow over 20 to 25 years to pay for the project and other planned improvements on the island ranging from new parks to road upgrades.It hopes to cover the costs without a tax increase, finance director Susan Simmons said.
The town also would contribute an additional $50,000 a year after construction is completed to subsidize the center's expanded operations. Beaufort County would contribute another $30,000 a year, according to a proposed financial plan. Revenue from new programs and other income would cover the remaining $270,000 annual cost for the added operations.
Town officials have been talking about the need to expand the center since 2008. Center officials say they have outgrown the building, which serves a population almost double the size it was built to accommodate 26 years ago.
The new gym would allow the center to add adult programs and expand youth sports, center executive director Frank Soule has said.
The center would remain open during construction, he said.
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