Craig Crawford

Fort Oglethorpe Mayor Pro Tem Craig Crawford discusses the city's nearly completed gymnasium restoration project during a Dec. 11 City Council meeting. (Catoosa News photo/Adam Cook)

Fort Oglethorpe officials are ecstatic about the completion of its gymnasium renovation project taking place on Second Street, which will result in a place for city recreation leagues to play by the end of the year.

After years of discussion and months of hard work, the project is nearly completed, with the finishing touches expected to be added last week.

"We should get the parking lot finished this week and do a final walkthrough," Public Works and Recreation Director Jeff Long said during the city council meeting Dec. 11. "Everything is coming together, and we actually rolled in the basketball goals today. We should be able to be playing ball in there by the week after next."

Renovation of the gym has been going on since the city awarded a $611,000 bid for the project June 12. That agreement was followed up by multiple change orders on Oct. 23, at which time the council approved an additional $58,158 for needed changes and $34,121.01 for the necessary recreational equipment to furnish the facility.

The majority of the project has been funded from the 2009 SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax). From that SPLOST cycle, $480,000 was allocated to recreation capital improvement projects in the city of Fort Oglethorpe. Those funds along with funds allocated from the city budget have been used to acquire the property and revamp the facility.

Near the end of the meeting, during the City Council's comments to the public, Mayor Pro Tem Craig Crawford took time to thank not only Long, but the people who've supported the effort to create the new facility for city youth.

"I'd like to thank Jeff, the mayor, and several other people, those on the recreation board," Crawford said. "The gym, it's something we're going to be proud of."

Long also thanked the mayor and council, and again pointed out the main reason for the effort, supporting youth athletics.

"We're just excited the get them (kids) in there and let them play," Long said. "It's come along well, it's been great to see it turn into a reality."

Long added that a ribbon-cutting and ceremonial grand opening for the facility will be held after the first of the year.

Adam Cook is a general assignment reporter and covers the Walker-Catoosa County area. He has been a reporter since 2009. He can be reached at The Catoosa County News office at 706-935-2621 and by email at acook@npco.com.