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Controversial YMCA aquatic center open this weekend

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ROCHELLE B. BIRKELO
December 13, 2007

Six months after the YMCA of Northern Rock County announced it would create an aquatic center, the project is ready for a splashy debut.


Members will get their first close-up look during Saturday’s grand opening that starts at 9:30 a.m. with remarks by Jeff Hazekamp, YMCA board president, and a ribbon cutting and beach ball drop.


The public is invited from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday during Freedom Plastics Community Day. Admission for nonmembers is $5 per person or $20 per family.


Construction transformed two pools, the family locker room and the space between the pools. The revamped area has an enclosed birthday party room and an observation area overlooking the activity pool.


Other improvements include resurfaced gym floors and racquetball courts, new lights in the main gym and Parker Hall, new flooring in the weight room and a new group exercise room.


The aquatic center features two pools—one for lap swimming and the other an activity pool, which offers a wading area with water features, a current channel and an exercise/activity area with basketball hoops.


The aquatic center, which originally was scheduled to open Nov. 1, didn’t happen without controversy.


The $1.2 million project generated a wave of opposition from swimmers who did not want the larger lap pool converted into a playground for children.


Board members rejected bids for the project when they came in over budget in July. And board member John Westphal resigned.


The board followed up by approving the project in August.


Sunday’s open house also will feature face painting, a bounce house and tours. Lunch from Subway will be available for an additional fee.


Anyone joining the local YMCA before Sunday will receive a commemorative aquatic center gift package that contains a sport bag, beach ball, beach towel and water bottle.


JUST THE FACTS

Who: The YMCA of Northern Rock County


What: Opening of its new aquatic center


When: Saturday, Dec. 15—9:30 a.m., opening presentation with board president Jeff Hazekamp and a ribbon cutting/beach ball drop; 10 a.m., first 100 members can participate in games and activities; 11 a.m., aquatic center opens to members.


Sunday, Dec. 16—Freedom Plastics Community Day, noon to 5 p.m. open house for nonmembers.


Where: 221 Dodge St., downtown Janesville.


Cost: Free for members, $5 per person or $20 per family for nonmembers.



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