Fort Mill Times

Fort Mill school board to hear aquatics center plans

Families get publicly baptized at Rock Hill Aquatics Center

Local churches rented out the pool at the Rock Hill Aquatics Center on Sunday so they could offer a baptismal service to anyone and everyone who wanted to get saved.
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Local churches rented out the pool at the Rock Hill Aquatics Center on Sunday so they could offer a baptismal service to anyone and everyone who wanted to get saved.

A special called Fort Mill school board meeting has been scheduled for 5 p.m. Sept. 6 for the public to hear details from two proposals for a school district aquatics center.

A request for proposal for a school district aquatics center received two responses. One proposal is from Game On Sports/Mecklenburg Aquatics for Concept and the other is a partnership between the town of Fort Mill and the Upper Palmetto YMCA, according to the meeting agenda. The town’s proposal would involve the pool at the Leroy Springs and Co.-owned recreation complex used by the Fort Mill and Nation Ford high school swimming teams.

The irony is that it was the district’s concern that the complex will eventually close that led to the idea of building its own aquatics center.

In a 2015 bond referendum, Fort Mill School District voters approved more than $226 million in funding for school construction and upgrades and $9.9 million to construct a swimming facility. The district is now planning a third high school. Leroy Springs and Co. several years ago requested a re-zoning for the complex property to a designation that would make it available for commercial development. That request was tabled and the town since entered into a lease agreement with LSC for the complex.

The school district and complex members have expressed anxiety over what will happen once that lease expires in a couple of years.

School officials emphasized before the 2015 vote that the district would move ahead with the aquatics center project only if no viable alternative becomes available before the complex’s expected closing. If it does build the facility, the district would seek a community partner to handle daily operations and maintenance, officials said then. Not long after the vote, the Upper Palmetto YMCA, which has a similar arrangement with Clover schools, signaled its willingness to do the same in Fort Mill.

In July, Tega Cay City Council approved a plan by Mooresville, N.C., -based Game On Development to build a 78-acre multi-use sports complex, including 40 acres west of Stonecrest Boulevard at Dam Road that would be annexed into the city. Brad Ceraolo with Game On Development is also with Game On Sports.

The Tega Cay project involves a two-level sports facility, 14-screen theater complex, 150-room hotel and four-level parking garage. A park, medical and professional offices, retail and residential uses will be included, too. The sports complex will replace a salvage yard. It will have eight basketball courts, four multipurpose fields, indoor and outdoor tennis, an Olympic size and resort-style pool, bowling and a 35,000-square-foot fitness center.

Ceraolo said in July he wants to build a world-class sports training site with some of the second level apartments used to house visiting athletes. Other housing units, including a possible assisted living facility, would be for full-time residents.

The school board discussed the proposals in executive session during its Aug. 30 meeting. On Tuesday, the public will get to hear details during presentations. Game On is scheduled to present from 5 to 6 p.m., followed by the town of Fort Mill and YMCA 6-7 p.m, according to the agenda, which did not list a planned vote on the proposals or any other business.

No matter what’s contained in either proposal, it might not be the last one the board hears. On Friday, the district sent a letter to Game On and the town/YMCA telling them they are canceling the prior RFP and might issue a new one.

“After review of your proposals and hours upon hours of discussions, the School District has decided to cancel this solicitation at this time and not move forward with an award. This is to allow the District to better determine our needs in regards to the aquatics center and then be able to receive proposals in the future that fit our exact needs,” the letter states, adding, “Though this solicitation is being canceled and no award is being made at this time, the School Board is still very interested in learning of the overall concept that each of you had proposed.”

The Sept. 6 meeting will be held in the board’s chambers inside the district office at 223 Deerfield Drive (off Gold Hill Road, near I-77) in Fort Mill.

Reporter John Marks contributed.

Michael Harrison: 803-547-2353, @MikeHarrisonFMT