Mother Nature delays work on new Batesville community center

Mother Nature delays work on new Batesville community center

BATESVILLE, AR (KAIT) - Bad weather pushed back the new Batesville community center and aquatics facility's grand opening from September to late December.

"On this project so far, we've had about 120 rain and wet days, which is ridiculous in a year," said Batesville Parks and Rec Director Jeff Owens. "That's a third of a year."

Owens said the delay comes at no cost to the city and there is still a lot of progress to see.

"I'm still pleased with the progress," said Jeff Owens. "It's just not as fast as I would really like it to be."

Owens said he hopes the facility will open by winter so Region 8 residents can enjoy it come rain or shine.

"It's a big deal for a town of 10,000 people," Owens said. "It really is. People don't really realize what they're getting yet."

Here's what the city's getting: a 60,000 square-foot outdoor pool area, a gymnasium and an indoor pool building.

Visitors can enjoy three basketball courts, racquetball court, running track and more in the gym, and a competition pool, kid's play pool and heated therapy pool in the indoor pool building. While inside, swimmers can still have the outside feel thanks to a retractable roof.

Many people in Batesville believe the new community center and aquatics facility is a big deal for their city.

"It will just make everybody happy," said Batesville father Tony Cagle. "Everybody that I talk to is just excited for it, especially kids."

People from surrounding cities said the same thing.

"Everybody will benefit," said Melbourne mother Rebecca Whitten. "My daughter will just be ecstatic. We have a pool at home, but she'll have to come down here to see more than the pool at home, more people."

The new facility is a 30 minute drive for Whitten and her ten-year-old daughter, but she said it's a trip they will make regularly.

"I don't think it'll be any problem getting people to come up here," Whitten said.

That's exactly what Owens is hoping for.

He plans to use the amenities to host huge tournaments, trade shows, conferences, even weddings.

"It's tourism but it's also going to provide a lot of opportunities for the local people," Owens said. "The phones are ringing. There are people calling and requesting reservations to host events here. The chamber of commerce is already planning an event. There's four or five just waiting on us to finish."

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