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Lindley Estes is a business writer for The Free Lance-Star and This blog is on Fredericksburg-area business. Send an e-mail to Lindley Estes.

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Three express interest in running Stafford fitness and aquatics facility

Three organizations, including two based in the Fredericksburg area, are in the running to operate an $11 million aquatics and fitness facility that Stafford County will build in Embrey Mill.

Locally based Eastern Sports Management and the Rappahannock Area YMCA, along with Aquatic Management Inc. out of Atlanta, each submitted proposals to the county to run the indoor center at Stafford’s Embrey Mill Park.

Stafford will pay to build the 76,350-square-foot facility as well as adjacent rectangular athletic fields, but will hire a private firm to operate the complex. The operator will lease the facility for a nominal fee, and could return surplus revenues to the county.

Stafford began accepting proposals in late December and gave interested parties until this week to respond. Deputy County Administrator Keith Dayton late this week revealed the names of the three organizations that submitted proposals.

Aquatic Management Inc. provides swimming pool management services for municipalities, water parks, country clubs and private communities, according to its website.

Eastern Sports Management is owned by members of the local Wack family, who are also principals of the Fredericksburg Field House, Virginia Beach Field House and Wack General Contractor. Their field houses run an array of youth and adult sports leagues, host birthday parties and provide other sports programs. The owners for some time have been eyeing a possible expansion into Stafford.

Eastern Sports Management for the past year has been operating the United Sports Training Center near Philadelphia on a contract basis. The facility includes a 127,000-square-foot indoor sports center and a 60-acre, 11-field outdoor complex.

The Rappahannock Area YMCA, a nonprofit, runs fitness and recreation facilities in Falmouth and King George and Spotsylvania counties, and will soon open its Caroline County branch. The area Y, whose other facilities also include many of the amenities planned at the Embrey Mill complex, has long eyed a North Stafford branch.

The Embrey Mill facility will be off Mine Road near the intersection of Courthouse Road. Newland Communities is developing Embrey Mill, whose clubhouse is open and first homes have been built.

The fitness facility will include a 50-meter competition pool that will have eight lanes at 2 meters deep and ample seating for spectators and competitors. There will also be a separate 25-meter lap pool as well as a wellness pool. The facility will also include a gym, classrooms, studios for spinning and aerobics, and basketball/volleyball courts.

Swimming programs through the county and its public schools are expected to get pool time set aside, and the pools will be reserved for swim meets on numerous weekends a year.

Dayton said county staff, working with the Board of Supervisors’ Infrastructure Committee, will spend the next month reviewing the three proposals and identifying the strengths and weaknesses of each. Interviews could be scheduled after the middle of April.

The preferred operator will be recommended to the Board of Supervisors in May or June. After the board makes its choice, negotiations will ensue with the chosen operator, a process that could take two months. Dayton anticipates that the process should be completed by August or early September.

The county is shooting to open the facility in the fall of 2015.