Article by the News-Journal/Raeford & Hoke County
By Catharin Shepard • Staff writer • A groundbreaking ceremony next month will kick off the construction of Hoke County’s new indoor swimming pool and recreation center.
The county will hold a groundbreaking Thursday, February 18 at 11 a.m. at the planned construction site for the James A. Leach Parks and Recreation Aquatics Center.
Work on the project has reached the stage where commissioners can celebrate the start of getting dirt moving at the location, Commission Chairman Harry Southerland said Monday.
“We met with the president of Metcon, we met with the president of J&K and we also spoke with the architect,” he said, referring to the entities involved in designing and building the facility.
The planned indoor swimming pool facility is a project years in the works. The county board changed developers for the center several times before voting in November 2020 to bring in the Pembroke-based Metcon to join forces with architect firm SFL+A, along with a number of contractors and consultants.
The center is named for Commissioner James Leach, who has served on the county board for more than 25 years, including many years as chairman. Leach was a prominent voice in initially spurring the board members to work toward building a Parks and Recreation center.
The aquatic center will feature an eight-lane competition swimming pool and a family fun pool, according to the contract specifications. There will also be a competition size basketball court with two cross courts, offices for the Parks and Recreation Department, various classrooms and workout areas and other accessory spaces “to provide a full-service recreation center,” according to a contract.
The center will be constructed on a roughly 10-acre parcel of land on U.S. 401 in East Hoke, which is part of a larger parcel the county purchased in 2019 for $549,000. The county is currently working to run sewer service to the area, using grant funding for the “Grow Hoke” development.
Drivers will be able to enter the parking lot with a right-in, right-out entrance, pending North Carolina Department of Transportation review and approval, according to county documents.