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Olympic venue may get money to turn things around

Foundation voted today to approve lease agreements with Gainesville, Hall

POSTED: November 16, 2013 12:00 a.m.

The Lake Lanier Olympic Center may soon get an infusion of tax dollars to restore it to its former glory.

The Gainesville/Hall ’96 Foundation approved lease and service agreements with both the city and county at its Friday morning meeting. 

The foundation is a nonprofit also known as the Gainesville/Hall County ’96 Roundtable. The group worked to bring Olympic rowing and paddling events to the area in the 1996 Summer Games, then maintain the site’s legacy.

Mimi Collins, chairwoman of the Foundation, said local government officials, including attorneys for both, have reviewed the contracts. She hopes to get the documents finalized by the end of the year. 

Gainesville and Hall County recently agreed to invest more in the venue, each giving $150,000 to the board to manage and upgrade the facility. 

The venue is leased to Gainesville and Hall County by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The city and county sublease it to the foundation, which subleases it to the Lake Lanier Rowing Club and the Lanier Canoe and Kayak Club. 

The venue’s buildings, now 18 years old, were built for a summer event and not insulated, Steve Gilliam, local attorney and group co-founder, said in May. The docks have been damaged by constantly changing lake levels, and there has been no money to make repairs, he added. 

Collins said the agreements likely will be brought up at the Gainesville City Council and Hall County Board of Commissioners’ work sessions in December. Both governments must approve the contract.

“Their attorneys have all been working with Steve Gilliam on the development of it,” she said. “And we’ve been working on it more or less for six weeks, so hopefully we’re at a good place.”

Leasing and services have been broken out into separate documents from the original draft agreement. An earlier version stated the two governments shall remain owners of the property, but allowed the board to provide a place for rowing, canoeing and kayaking programs.

Other changes coming to the facility include the hiring of a full-time facility manager. The foundation has so far received 36 applications. The job advertisement is posted on several websites and applications will be taken until Dec. 13.

“I’m pleased with (the response),” Collins said. “I didn’t know what to expect.”

The venue manager will be responsible for the center, including maintenance and day-to-day operations. Essential duties include maximizing the events at the venue and developing it to be an internationally recognized regatta center and athletic training facility.


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