Space management was the difference.
The Recreation Advisory Board met Friday and chose the design for the new gym at Sweetwater Park that gave them the most space for their buck.
The board went with the fourth of four design options presented by the Facility Group. It was the smallest but had the most efficient floor plan. "Scheme D," as it was dubbed, consists of a central lobby for access to the Recreation Department offices.
Members of the board were attracted to the large storage area located on the right side of the gym. They felt the 2,100 square foot area was positioned efficiently and was big enough to handle the department's needs.
"These other schemes had the athletic storage on the front of the building, but I thought it was a good idea to bring our offices out front," said Recreation Department Director Bob Howard. "I think it's got everything positioned pretty good."
The entire facility is 22,347 square feet with a curved front face and canopy at the main entrance. The original drawing contained two full-sized basketball courts, but the board asked to have lines for a third court drawn perpendicular to the original courts to allow for more seating at a large event.
Additional retractable bleachers could then be added at the front and rear of the courts. The original plan called for a seating capacity of 400, but with the additions proposed by the board, additional seating would enhance viewing of games on the center court.
The challenge of keeping the designs within the nearly $2 million budget fell to Project Manager Mike Moreland of the Facility Group, who presented the preliminary plans to the board.
He said the most difficult part of designing the new gym was "prioritizing their needs, identifying areas that we could save the county money...
"We're looking at all of those things and talking to manufacturers of those materials to make sure they will work and they are feasible," he said, "and also designing something that is flexible for future additions."
Mr. Moreland said a revised drawing of "Scheme D" will be made available to Mr. Howard within two weeks. Those plans would then be presented to the County Commission and the Thomson City Council.
Once completed, the facility will alleviate scheduling headaches for the recreation department during basketball season.
"We won't have to rely on the board of education, not getting into their facilities until late at night," Mr. Howard said. "Parents and children will get to play a little bit earlier in the evenings, and they won't be out as late at night."
Mr. Howard said with the extra space, gymnastics and cheerleading programs can take off, and the basketball leagues will expand. That is something a lack of courts has prevented so far, he said.
"I feel like when this facility is finished our basketball program is going to increase," Mr. Howard said. "We've never really pushed the basketball program like we push baseball and softball and some of our other team sports."