NPCW unveils center plans

Architect Randy Jones explains the design of the proposed Green Bank Wellness Center at a special Northern Pocahontas Community Wellness meeting last week. Jones was contracted by NPCW to design the building which includes a full size gymnasium, fitness room and four-lane pool. S. Stewart photo
Architect Randy Jones explains the design of the proposed Green Bank Wellness Center at a special Northern Pocahontas Community Wellness meeting last week. Jones was contracted by NPCW to design the building which includes a full size gymnasium, fitness room and four-lane pool. S. Stewart photo

Suzanne Stewart
Staff Writer

Northern Pocahontas Community Wellness board members and architect Randy Jones unveiled the plans for a wellness center at a community meeting last week.

Jones presented the plans and explained the preliminary design.

“What you see tonight is a culmination of about six months worth of work,” he said. “What we have come up with is a very simple community center plan. It is set up to where if it needs to be built in phases, it can be. It is set up to have a full-size gymnasium. It’s set up to have a center core and it’s also set up to have a four lane, twenty-five yard pool.”

The center is designed to fit nicely on the land next to Green Bank Elementary-Middle School, which was donated by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory.

Jones said he and the NPCW board visited the Pocahontas County Wellness Center in Marlinton to gather information on what the county already has with regard to a wellness center in order to design something along the same lines, but a little different for Green Bank.

The building is designed in “bays” which may be added on to in the future and are not required to be built at the same time. Jones said if the board chooses to build the pool first as funding is available, that option is possible.

The bays are also designed so they can be closed off to allow community members to rent just the pool or just the gymnasium, and allow the other sections to remain open to the public.

“The building is zoned so it can be used by different user groups at different times,” Jones said. “For example, if somebody wanted to rent the pool, maybe on a Sunday for a birthday party, we have it set up with a separate entrance. Same thing for the gymnasium. If someone wanted to rent the gymnasium and use it for a function, it can be utilized and the pool can be locked off.”

Included in the center bay are locker rooms, including two family locker rooms, a fitness room, patrol desk, kitchen and multi-purpose room.

The main focus of the center – the number one item community members asked for – is the pool. Along with a four lane pool, the facility also has a heated therapy pool and a handicap accessible ramp leading into the pool.

“It has a zero depth entry into it – about twelve feet wide – it starts at level and it slowly goes down into the water,” Jones said. “It’s basically made to be handicapped accessible, so if you’re in a wheelchair made for pools, you can roll right into it. It’s also really great for kids, especially those two and three-year-olds who want to get in the water and splash around, but we really don’t want them to go out into the three-or-four-foot deep water.”

Total area for the center is about 20,000 square feet.

For the facility as it is designed at this time, Jones said it will cost approximately $3.5 million. The figure includes construction and installing a septic system and well to serve the facility.

After his presentation, Jones answered questions from community members. Board members Abe Rittenhouse and Malinda Meck assisted in filling in blanks and giving a history of the project.

Meck explained that the idea for a Green Bank wellness center began almost eight years ago when PA Rachel Taylor organized meetings to discuss building a center.

“We held a bunch of open houses and got community input,” Meck said. “That’s where these ideas came from. It was just the four or five of us on the committee. We did surveys and compiled that data, and looked at what the community wanted. People got interested in it and two years ago we formed a 501c3. Now we’ve got this tentative design put together and we’re in the phase now of being ready to go get funding.”

NPCW has received funding through several entities, including Snowshoe Foundation and the Pocahontas County Commission. The NRAO also started the Space Race Rumpus which benefits the center.

As the board awaits funding for the new project, it has a small temporary center in the former bus garage at GBEMS. Rittenhouse explained that the current center has elipticals, treadmills, weight machines, a bench press bar and much more.
“If you volunteer an hour a week, you can have a free membership there,” he said. “If you want to come in whenever you want, you can pay a monthly membership to be a part of that.”

As a way to show its appreciation to those interested in the project, NPCW gave a free month of membership to everyone who attended the meeting.

Two displays of the plans will be placed at different locations in the community to allow individuals to see what the future center will look like.

NPCW board meets the first Tuesday of each month, at 7 p.m., at the NRAO. The board welcomes all who are interested in helping making the wellness center a reality.

Suzanne Stewart may be contacted at sastewart@pocahontastimes.com

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