Council to decide who will run natatorium

With the opening of the natatorium about four months away, the Columbus Council expects to decide next month who will manage the building.

The $10.5 million facility is part of a $32.5 million development that includes the City Service Center and a 370-vehicle parking garage.

Columbus Parks & Recreation Director James Worsley is scheduled to lay out three options for council during the Feb. 5 work session, Mayor Teresa Tomlinson confirmed Wednesday.

Tomlinson said she expects two of those options to include involvement from the parks and recreation department.

One option would be for the department to independently manage the natatorium. Another would include split duties involving a third-party contract firm who would manage portions of the operations.

"The other option is an independent authority," Tomlinson said. "Much like the Trade Center Authority, which tends to be more expensive."

The 57,000-square-foot swimming facility will provide for competitive, recreational and therapeutic swimming yearround.

The natatorium will include an eight-lane, 50-meter Olympic pool, a four-lane 25-meter warm-up, cool-down and therapy pool and a pro shop.

Deputy City Manager David Arrington said the project is on schedule to be finished by the end of May.

"The plan is for us to complete our move on Memorial Day weekend," Arrington said, "and open up for business Tuesday after that."

Arrington said the construction has stayed within its budget and no unforeseen problems have occurred.

Officials broke ground on the project in September 2011, approximately 11 years after the city bought the practically empty Columbus Square Mall for $7.5 million. The mall was demolished in 2002, and a new main library (2005) and school district headquarters (2009) were built.

The City Service Center will house about 120 employees and will be home to the city's finance division, the tax commissioner, the tax assessor, the Citizens Service Center, parks and recreation administration, the elections and registration office, Deputy City Manager Lisa Goodwin's office, CCG-TV and Columbus Council chambers.

Arrington said a preliminary study on space reallocation has been reviewed, but no decisions have been made for the old offices.

The projects are being financed primarily by the 2008 Local Option Sales Tax and the 1999 Special Purpose Local Option Sales tax.