By Lyra Bordelon
Just ten days before West Virginia began to lock down due to COVID-19, the Greenbrier Valley Aquatic Center received approximately $2 million from the state, rounding out the project to its $6 million goal. Despite reaching this milestone, construction was put on pause while the lockdown was in effect, halting the physical project for over a month.
As of Thursday, June 17, the project is expected to break ground with Lynch Construction this week, pending weather.
“Way back when, our original thought and hope was that we’d break ground around the first of May,” said Director of Community Engagement Jamie Hamilton. “When the shut downs first started to happen, we, as a board, sat back and decided we were going to see, through the month of March, how this played out. We would see immediately what happened and try to take the best approach on how to move forward.”
The construction timeline now entails getting the steel support structure and much of the building complete during the summer and fall, allowing the National Pools workers to install the pools and associated infrastructure inside the building during the winter months.
“The hope is still summer of 2021 for an opening, as it has been the entire time. Really, the steel structure is going to be the thing that gives us a much more accurate projection. If everything stays on schedule as noted in that plan, then it’ll have a roof when the winter weather sets in, then we should be in really good shape.”
In addition to the delays caused by COVID-19, throughout much of the time West Virginia was under lockdown, rain and storms were a frequent sight in Greenbrier Valley.
“It was kind of a double dose, when we were supposed to be out there working, Mother Nature threw salt in the wounds that much more,” Hamilton joked. “Even if COVID wasn’t a thing, just with the weather it was more than likely going to get behind schedule. We’re hoping Mother Nature throws us a bone.
With Lynch working on the Aquatic Center’s steel structure, bids for the general contractor are due by June 18 at 2 p.m. Currently, approximately six firms appear to be interested in placing bids.
Although the grand opening is many months away, the health of guests and safety from COVID-19 is already on the team’s mind.
“A lot of aquatic centers across the county are starting to open back up again, so we’re seeing the models,” Hamilton explained. “We’ll watch those that are operational and heed the recommendations for places like the aquatic center. … We’ll do whatever our role is to make sure, when we are open, that it’s done responsibly, whether there’s a virus or not. Cleanliness and the health of our members and guests will always be at the forefront.”
Hopes with the Aquatic Center team remain high, despite the delays, the project will be complete for the 2021 opening.
“I think we’ve got a pretty good shot at it, it’s a good timeline,” Hamilton said. “Of course, anytime there’s construction going on, there’s always things out of your control, but we’ll do our best to stay as close to that as we possibly can.”