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Whatever happened to the plans to build the Dolphin Aquatics and Fitness Center in Hampstead?

According to Steph Nestor, director of the nonprofit organization Dolphin Aquatics and Fitness, the organization decided to shift its focus from building a pool to providing afterschool care to elementary students in Hampstead.

In 2006, StarNews reported that Dolphin Aquatics planned to rely on grants, sponsors and fundraising to build a facility that could cost up to $3 million.

First, finding land for the pool and then funding to move the project forward seemed to have made a public pool seem as too much of a distant dream to focus on for Dolphin Aquatics.  “I think because of the different setbacks, with septic issues, money — we didn’t even start the fundraising process,” Nestor said.  “It was just so long term there’s no reason to raise money for something that that might not happen until 10 or 15 years.  That’s a hard thing to raise money for… The economy has significantly changed significantly since we started on that, it’s very hard for nonprofits to get grants, there’s just less money out there…””

“Right now we just provide after school care and youth programs and swimming lessons as a non-profit organization…For us, right now Dolphin Aquatics have just sort of said we’re going to focus on what we’re doing now that’s working, it’s positive and it’s stuff that we can do right now because that (pool) project seems to be so long term.”

Dolphin Aquatics contracts with Pender County Schools to provide after school programs for three elementary schools in Hampstead.  The organization provides swimming lessons and water safety classes in the summer.  “We do swimming at Lanier Campground in the summer. So as far as the swimming aspect of it, it’s still alive, and we’ve been trying to see if we can get a swim team going…it’s just that as far as raising money for a pool—that’s too long term for us right now.”

Though Dolphin Aquatics may no longer be focused on building an aquatic facility in the area, Hampstead may still be home to a community pool in the future, according to developer Jeff Beaudoin. Nestor says Dolphin Aquatic’s dreams of a pool eventually did led to a “merging” with Beaudoin who had some land that both parties felt could be a good location for a community pool.

Over the last few years, Beaudoin has been planning to build not just a community pool, but also a recreation complex, and he says those plans are still in the works. Beaudoin is planning to build a Community Aquatic Lifestyle Center, with two pools and a multipurpose facility on 28.55 acres on the west side of Country Club Drive, about 600 feet south of Avila Drive.

In September 2009 Pender County Planning board unanimously approved Beaudoin’s Master Plan for the proposed Community Aquatic Lifestyle Center and a revision in August 2010.

Last September, Beaudoin also received approval for the first two phases of his multi-phase project.  The first phase includes construction of a 4,500 square-foot building, expected to be used to accommodate various activities and programming and serve as a main office for the center. The second phase includes construction of a 12,000 square-foot barn-style multipurpose pavilion, which is proposed to provide horse boarding, nine gazebo structures and climbing tower and ropes course.

Beaudoin said he delayed his project for a year, but will “kickoff” of his project in April 2013 with the initial 4,500 square-foot building. “Another 12,000 square-foot building and Olympic pool plans to follow sometime in 2014,” he said.

“The 4,500 and 12,000 sq ft buildings and land will be used for events, education, cultural arts, etc.,” he said. “Our future Olympic pools are dependent on additional sewer being provided to the property.”

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