Siler City’s long-anticipated Aquatic Center at Bray Park opened this year, replacing the once beloved pool that had been built in the 1950s. The town worked on …
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Siler City’s long-anticipated Aquatic Center at Bray Park opened this year, replacing the once beloved pool that had been built in the 1950s.
The town worked on the project for several years, launching a capital campaign in 2018 to help raise funds for the facility and breaking ground on the construction.
The cost of the design and construction of the pool was about $1 million. In 2016, Siler City received a Parks and Recreation Trust Fund (PARTF) grant for half of the original cost of the renovations. As the grant is a “matching” grant, the town would have to raise the money and be reimbursed by the grant for half the costs.
Throughout the year, the town, with the assistance of its fundraising consultant group Convergent, raised $313,865 in private funding for the project. The town of Siler City also received a grant Chatham County for the construction of the pool for $42,760.
In February, demolition at the old pool began which included completely gutting the bathhouse and cutting out the old pool’s shell. Contractors also cut out the pool deck to allow for new water lines. The demolition lasted about a month.
At that time, the town hoped that the Aquatic Center would be open for the Memorial Day weekend at the start of the season. However, construction delays combined with permitting and inspection hurdles continued to move the anticipated dated further into the summer.
By June, with hopes of a July 4th opening date, crews were working inside the bathhouse, installing lights, flooring, plumbing, and painting.
The massive pumps and filter systems were installed, filling the area that used to hold one of the bathrooms. The other bathroom had been converted to become two separate bathrooms with stalls, sinks, and a shower.
The pumps, filters, and the sand goes into them, and the water that flows through them will put thousands of pounds of weight on the concrete floor. As such, large support beams were installed in the room below to reinforce the floor.
Outside, the new shell for the pool was poured. The pumps and drains were in place, as were the pumps for the water features which were located at the zero-entry side of the pool.
Workers were placing tiles around the edge on the inside of the shell and installed pavers to line the pool. Workers worked to connect the plumbing for the pool to the bathhouse.
Even with the progress, the pool’s opening date was again delayed.
In July, the pool was filled with water. Most of the decking tiles had been installed as had the water features, and the bathrooms were nearly complete with toilets, sinks, showers and stalls all in place.
Work on the interior continued to progress as the entire building required new electrical wiring.
The Aquatic Center at Bray Park finally opened the first week of August. To celebrate, the town had free pizza and a ribbon cutting before opening the doors to excited residents who were anxious to cool off in the new pool.
Morning rains stopped and clouds broke just in time for the ribbon cutting event.
“I’m taking that as an indication of the big fella smiling down on us,” Siler City Mayor John Grimes said at the time.
After the ribbon was cut and the doors officially opened, a line of residents stretched out the door waiting to pay their fee and try out the new pool. The first child in the pool was Siler City town manager Bryan Thompson’s daughter Taylor who began removing her coverup as soon as her feet hit the decking. Her feet hit the water 15 seconds later.
The pool remained open late into the summer because of the delayed opening. The Aquatic Center at Bray Park will be open for its first full summer season in 2019. For more information on memberships, contact the Siler City Parks and Recreation Department.