By Catharin Shepard • Staff writer • The Hoke County Board of Commissioners voted Monday to move forward with the next steps toward building a public swimming pool and recreation center, and will meet again Friday to discuss building a new courthouse.
The board voted unanimously to send out a request for qualifications, known as an RFQ, seeking a construction manager for the county’s proposed Parks and Recreation center. The construction manager will be responsible for working with an architect firm to determine project costs, and for hiring subcontractors to handle the recreation center construction. The county should receive responses from qualified candidates in about three weeks.
Earlier this summer the commission hired the SFL+A architect firm to create a floor plan for the proposed rec center. The building would be about 51,000 square feet total, according to an SFL+A representative.
The two-story building design includes a regulation-sized indoor swimming pool with eight lanes, suitable for swimming competitions, and a recreation/family swimming pool more suitable for children. The initial design also includes a gym with multiple basketball courts, allowing Parks and Recreation to hold multiple basketball games at one time. The facility would have an indoor walking track, several multi-purpose rooms for classes and events, locker rooms and office space, plus a concessions stand.
Commissioners gave verbal approval of the initial design and told the architect firm to proceed with its work. The county purchased last year about 30 acres of property on U.S. 401 near Scull Road to build the facility. The commissioners are using grant funding to extend county sewer and water service to the area.
The county will likely pay for the center with a combination of cash funding and financing. A final price tag on the project hasn’t been announced. An SFL+A representative said the firm expected to have construction documents completed by the end of the summer.
During the meeting, Thomasema Pannell and her twin 13-year-old sons, Isaac and Isaiah Fitzpatrick, addressed commissioners with their own proposal for a recreation center.
“They came to me about a year ago and said Mom, we want to do something for Hoke County, we want to do something for the community,” she said.
The boys independently worked on coming up with a proposal to build a recreation center in Hoke County. They were concerned because they felt that many youth, especially from military families, didn’t have as many opportunities in Hoke County to engage in exercise or physical training and participate in sports.
The two brothers created their own company and did research into building a new recreation center. The teens delivered their presentation to commissioners at the meeting Monday night.
The board members praised them for their efforts, which paralleled the work the commissioners have been doing to build a recreation center. Commissioner Allen Thomas invited the family to attend future meetings discussing the recreation center plans. Commission Vice Chairman Harry Southerland said he wanted to put the teens in touch with the Parks and Recreation director so they could talk more about the project.
“I love to see that in our youth. We want to support you and continue to encourage you to keep doing what you’re doing,” he said.
Commissioners also discussed the in-progress plans for a new courthouse. The board members recessed the meeting until Friday morning at 10 a.m., when they will resume talking about the project.