What's the latest on the Walter B. water park?
More than three years have passed since the county commission first floated the idea of a water park at Walter B. Williams Jr. Park.
The idea, according to County Commissioner Carlos Tobar, was to provide swimming during the warm-weather months and not lose money at the same time. The county currently is losing money at the Centennial Center swimming pool, which its renting this summer from Georgia College & State University.
The Aquatics Center, which is what the county commission is calling it, would be built at the old prison property at Walter B., just on the other side of the row of cedar trees and beside the big parking lot. The facility, patterned after the one in Dublin, would include a swimming pool, large water slide, a lazy river, a splash pad and other amenities. The water park in Dublin is profitable, according to Tobar, which is the idea here in Milledgeville.
The original idea was to construct the entire project with SPLOST dollars.
The Aquatics Center appeared to be on the verge of being green lit in the spring of 2021. There were artists renderings, meetings and even target opening dates. The project then went dormant for a while. The county commission then called an audible, however, and decided to apply for several large grants. Now, a decision is expected to be announced by Friday in terms of whether or not Baldwin County will be awarded with a $2 million dollar grant from the federal Office of Planning and Budgets.
"If we get the grant, we'll be ready to go," Tobar said on Tuesday, and construction would begin this year.
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The $2 million grant would cover roughly half of the facility's cost, while SPLOST dollars and donations would cover the other half.
If the county government is not awarded the $2 million grant, Tobar said that the facility would be built in "phases," with Phase 1 consisting of the swimming pool. If this scenario happens, the water park most likely would take three or four years to be completed.
So, in other words, we'll know "any day now."