All last week Walter Smith powered a bulldozer, hoping to outrun the predicted rain that has held up site work on a long- awaited gymnasium and emergency services center for the Keith Recreation Center.
"We've graded it down and cut down the parking lot," said Mr. Smith, Catoosa County heavy equipment supervisor. "We hauled in chert to get the ground to tighten up to put the foundation down."
If the ground stays dry for a few weeks, Chazler Construction Co., of Chattanooga, is expected to get started on the metal building, Commissioner DeWayne Hill said.
The Catoosa County Commission awarded the $649,000 contract for the project in Mr. Hill's sprawling District 4 in 2008.
"I know we need the rain," Mr. Hill said. "But it just hasn't cooperated with us."
The Keith project is the last big recreation project planned with funds from the special purpose local option sales tax of 2004, said C. Dennis Johnson, county recreation director.
More recreation projects are in line to be financed with SPLOST funds from the 1 percent sales tax voters last September agreed to continue. That round of the sales tax begins in July and includes $2 million over the next five years for other recreation projects.
The Keith rec center has two playgrounds and a ball field that get a great deal of use, said Johnny Edwards, a resident of the eastern Catoosa community. A new gym will be more popular, he said.
"They put the playground in about two years ago, and I've noticed a lot families using it and having picnics," Mr. Edwards said. "This is a great little community, and we're kind of the last part of the county not to have something like this."
Mr. Johnson said the 9,450-square-foot metal building will have an exterior to match the voting precinct building already on the 8-acre site.
Designed by Killian Clark Partnership Architects, the building will have a regulation-size gymnasium with a garage in the corner of the building to house emergency services vehicles, architect Jack Killian said.
"When the county puts that kind of money into a building, they want to get as much value as possible," Mr. Killian said.
Mr. Hill said he and Mr. Johnson grew up in Keith, and both attended the elementary school that once stood where the recreation center now sits.
"This will really tickle Dennis and me to have this building out here," Mr. Hill said. "We've never had anything like this out here."