FAIRLEA, WV – Gov. Jim Justice announced today that he plans to put as much as $2 million to work to help spark construction of a new community swimming and recreation facility – called the Greenbrier Valley Aquatic Center (GVAC) – that will serve people across southern West Virginia and beyond.
“There are so many people who would truly benefit from a facility like this,” Gov. Justice said. “The goodness that it will bring to the area is off the charts.”
The Governor made the announcement alongside several local community leaders, during a celebratory event Wednesday morning at the West Virginia state fairgrounds in Fairlea – the future home of the aquatic center.
Plans to build the GVAC have been in the works for nearly half-a-decade. Thousands of individuals, businesses, and foundations have invested to try to make this project a reality, raising over $4 million to-date. However, the additional $2 million provided by Gov. Justice would represent the final portion of funding needed to get development off the ground.
“I’m proud, beyond belief, to be able to help get this thing across the finish line to where we will be able to finally get shovels in the dirt and start working on this project,” Gov. Justice said. “So many people have given their time and their talent – not to mention money out of their own pocket – to make this happen. It’s been a long time coming. Today is really a wonderful day.”
The complex’s 22,400-square-foot main building will come equipped with amenities for people of all ages and abilities, including three pools: a competition pool, a recreation pool, and a therapy pool. Additionally, the main building will include a splash dish, full locker rooms, a kitchen/concession area, as well as an activity room, classroom, cardio exercise room, and a senior club room.
The full facility will also include 6,000 square feet of open terrace, 3,300 square feet of covered terrace, and a parking area for as many as 50 vehicles.
For funding, the Governor has requested up to $2 million from the West Virginia Infrastructure Jobs Development Council (IJDC) to go toward jump-starting the plan. The West Virginia Department of Commerce will formally request the funds from the IJDC – a body created by the West Virginia Legislature to manage and facilitate funding for infrastructure and other projects – on the Governor’s behalf.
Members of the IJDC will review the request and give final approval before the funds can be officially transferred for use on the project.
The Greenbrier Valley Aquatic Center began as a student project at Greenbrier East High School in the 2015-2016 academic year. A group of architecture, engineering, and business students created the facility concept and business model under the direction of Kevin Warfield and TAG Galyean.
“It’s even more special to think that this idea, that we’re about to put into action, was dreamed up in one of our classrooms by a group of ambitious, intelligent, and committed students who had an idea to make their community a better place,” Gov. Justice said. “With this project, we are showing that anyone can play a role in making their hometown a little bit better. And I hope that people all across West Virginia see what we’re doing here and start to come up with their own ideas for goodness where they live.”
Galyean began approaching community members about their support of the idea and was met with a positive reaction. Eventually a Board of Directors was formed to oversee the project. In March 2018, the State Fair of West Virginia agreed to donate five acres of land for development.
Construction on the aquatic center is currently projected to begin later this year. GVAC project leaders are aiming to open the facility for swimming by summer 2021.