McDONOUGH — The location for Henry County’s new $22 million aquatic center now appears to be uncertain.
In March the Henry County Board of Commissioners selected the Bridges of Jodeco site, located at Interstate 75 and Jodeco Road in Stockbridge, to build the center.
The property owner had committed to donating a minimum of 8 and maximum of 14 acres of property to the county for the build. The approval came with the condition that the property be deeded over to the county no later than May.
The transfer has yet to happen, according to county officials. Part of the problem appears to be there’s debt remaining on the property. However, County Attorney Patrick Jaugstetter explained the county would not liable to pay off the debt if it is donated.
The location discussion came about during the Board of Commissioner’s Wednesday meeting where the board was asked to approve a $1.1 million contract to Architecture Unlimited to design the indoor center and outdoor water park. The board opted to delay voting on the contract with the intent of giving the Bridges at Jodeco property owner a second deadline to deed the property over to the county.
Commissioners appeared frustrated with the lack of progress with the land.
“This board has been more than tolerant of the person who is supposed to transfer the land to us,” Commissioner Vivian Thomas said.
Thomas said she feels like the county is being “pimped out” and that the property owner is using the county’s project as a “selling tool.”
“One person is stringing us along,” she said. “I don’t think we’d be so tolerant of anyone else.”
Commissioner Dee Clemmons agreed.
“I think we’re being played about this land,” she said.
Both commissioners said the county needs a back up location should the Bridges at Jodeco site fall through.
“I think we need to move on,” Clemmons said.
Thomas suggested the county consider the Nash Farm property as an alternative location to build or look at other properties currently for sale.
“At any point this board can direct us to move away from this piece of property,” she said.
Commission Chairman Carlotta Harrell said the board will offer further direction pertaining to a deadline and consideration of other properties at the next scheduled meeting on Sept. 21 at 6:30 p.m.
The center’s location has been an ongoing issue. The BOC was first presented with four potential locations in January, none of which all board members were happy with. A vote taken on each location — Red Hawk Park, Jodeco Road, Mill Road and Willow Lane — failed.
The Bridges at Jodeco site was proposed to the BOC in February. Leisure Services Cluster Leader Jonathon Penn said the location was already graded with utilities and roads already in place, which would minimize the site development costs. He added it offered what the county needed to build the center.
Aquatic Consultant Bob McCallister also gave the location the green light stating that it was “probably the county’s best selection.”
The board approved the location in March.