Monday, October 03, 2011

Marion and Carbondale Get $2.5 Million for Projects

They're not exactly tourism developments, but both Carbondale and Marion will be building new aquatic facilities thanks to a new state grant announced today by Gov. Pat Quinn.

Quinn announced 22 projects awarded funds in the Park and Recreational Facility Construction (PARC) Grant Program.

The funds are for "targeted investments to eligible local governments for acquisition, development, construction, rehabilitation or other capital improvements to park and recreation facilities in Illinois."

The Department of Natural Resources oversees the grant program and will reimburse "grant recipients up to 75 percent of approved project costs with up to 90 percent reimbursement available to local governments defined as disadvantaged."

The two Southern Illinois proposals were both development projects. Carbondale Park District will get $2.5 million to construct an outdoor aquatic center which will feature one leisure zero-depth entrance pool and one competition pool with a diving well.

View Projects Underway in Marion in a larger map

Marion will get the same amount to go toward constructing a new community recreation center at the site of the old Marion Memorial Memorial Hospital. The building will have an indoor swimming pool, basketball, volleyball and racquetball courts, restrooms, locker rooms and a wellness center office space.

Marion Mayor Bob Butler described the proposal to the Marion Daily Republican last December.

"I think it should be the type of facility that will appeal to people of all ages and will provide a broad and diverse type of activity," Butler said.

The former hospital site is five acres on West Main Street, just west of Court Street. The city owns the land.

"It is a good utilization of that property," Butler said. "It will bring a facility to the city that is really needed. We don't have anything in one location that would provide the activities and the endeavors it will provide."

The city at the time stated the plans called for $3.5 million, 20,000 square-foot facility. Much of the remaining funds would come from the new Hub TIF district. Baysinger Design drew up the original plans.

Williamson County hasn't had any racquetball courts since May 29, 1982 when the Airport Racquetball Club became one of the first casualties of the Marion tornadoes of that day.

The project will be the fourth indoor aquatics center though for the county, and the third in the modern era. John A. Logan College operates one currently and another is planned for Herrin on Bandyville Road.

The county's first indoor pool was once located at Cagle Park, a 10-acre amusement center on Route 13 (now Main St.) west of Halfway Road, back in the 1920s. That park also had a dance hall and game rooms. The Klan and Prohibition officers raided it a couple of times. The owner, Hosea Cagle, died during that era after driving through a closed section of the highway and getting clothes-lined on a cable the contractor had used to block off traffic.

UPDATE — Oct. 5, 2011
The cost of the overall project seems to have been lowered to $3 million in the stories this week rather than the $3.5 million from last December. Not sure about the difference, except the new figures might not include the cost of the land, which the city would have been allowed to count as an in-kind match in the grant application.

Click on the links for the stories in the Marion Daily Republican and the Southern Illinoisan.


Mitra said...

So necessary! Ever since I've moved here I've been wondering why Carbondale doesn't have an outdoor pool. The hottest part of the state deserves it!

Jon Musgrave said...

Carbondale's indoor aquatics center is the old YMCA which is where I learned to swim way back when.