Mother Nature is at it again and now she’s using another form of extreme weather to delay the opening of the Holding Park Aquatic Center. Over the winter, the culprit was subfreezing temperatures. Now, the problem is rain – lots and lots of rain.
In February, despite an unusually wet and cold winter, the contractor, Harrod and Associates Constructors, Inc. deemed the project 35 percent complete. That’s when the construction site’s susceptibility to adverse weather began to show.
Located at 133 W. Owen Ave., Wake Forest’s future aquatic center sits in a low area with limited drainage surrounded by trees. The location makes it difficult for the site to dry out during normal circumstances but even more so during continuous spells of rainy weather like the kind our area has experienced throughout the first half of 2018. Although the contractor pumped the site several times and worked weekends in an effort to maintain progress, the frustrating mix of wet weather and soggy site conditions continued to plague the project throughout February, March, April and May.
Despite these obstacles, Harrod and Associates has managed to construct the pump house, complete the pool shells and install the shade structures, pool coping and waterslides. When the site is too wet and muddy to allow for outside construction, crews work inside the pump house.
The first week of June brought the first break in the streak of rainy weather and with it hope that construction could get back on schedule. Hope was, in fact, fleeting as Mother Nature struck yet again.
The rains returned Sunday and Monday evenings, June 10-11, making it impossible for crews to begin the final phase of construction that includes pouring the concrete pool deck, installing the fencing and applying the remaining pool plastering.
As of now, the project is approximately 80 percent complete, yet the final 20 percent may prove the most challenging. Until Wake Forest enjoys an entire week of sunny weather with no rain, the low-lying site cannot dry out sufficiently to allow the subgrade to be compacted properly and the concrete pool deck poured.
“We’re disappointed, but the weather is out of our control,” said Parks, Recreation & Cultural Resources (PRCR) Director Ruben Wall, who also noted the weather’s impact on his department’s athletic programming. Since April, the PRCR Department has canceled and rescheduled a total of 194 games in its athletic leagues due to inclement weather.
“Still, we’re trying to look at the big picture. The original Holding Park Pool served our community well for over 70 years. We want the new aquatic center to be here for another 70 years, so it’s important we build it the right way.”
Due to the unpredictability of the weather, Wall is reluctant to offer a timetable for the completion of the aquatic center until our area experiences a significant stretch of dry weather. Still, he remains committed to the project and what it will mean to Wake Forest.
“Our entire team is working as hard as we can to get the facility open as soon as we possibly can,” said Wall. “When that time comes, we look forward to inviting the entire community out for what will be an unforgettable grand opening and dedication ceremony.”
For more information, contact PRCR Director Ruben Wall at 919-435-9561 or [email protected].