EATON — This Friday, May 27, the summer season will kick off with a ribbon cutting ceremony, open house, and free open swim at the new Main Street Aquatic Center (541 W. Main St.), beginning at 5 p.m. and lasting through 8 p.m.
The $1.9 million project began with demolition of the former swimming facility on the site, with construction through fall, winter, and the early months of 2016.
“This winter, they put up a giant, white circus tent,” said assistant city manager Joe Ferriell, “and they built the building underneath that so they could work through winter. They even did some of the painting inside before they took the tent down. I think that definitely saved us a couple of months. We’d probably be hard pressed to open Friday if they hadn’t had the foresight to put that tent up and work underneath it with the weather we’ve had.”
The Eaton Community Swim Association spent an entire year raising funds to build the original pool, which opened Sunday, July 5, 1964. It was funded and operated entirely by the Association until 1991. The neglected property was then turned over to the City of Eaton, which organized a major renovation in 2000 and maintained the property through the 2015 season, when it was deemed “deteriorated beyond its useful life” in a release issued last year.
City manager Brad Collins said the pool would likely have been shut down if not for the “very generous donation.” The pool closed early, in mid-August, to prepare for demolition.
An anonymous donation covered the cost of the 8,400 squate foot facility, which features two new water slides, a splash pad, a zero-depth entry area allowing beach-like entry and wading, an eight-lane competition pool, a “sprayground” for children, a new pool house, lifeguard station, concession stand, and elevated safety standards, resulting in a state-of-the-art outdoor aquatics center which will appeal above and beyond the 14,000 served by the defunct Community Pool annually. The picnic shelter will stand as the only remaining structure from the previous incarnation.
The city and Preble County YMCA will maintain their active partnership in maintenance of the facility, and day-to-day operation of the pool will not change.
“It’ll be a great opportunity for the people in the community to come out and see this fantastic facility,” said YMCA executive director Josh Haynes.” It’s such a huge upgrade, and just the wow factor when you see it for the first time if you’re used to seeing what was there… I think people are really going to love it.”
Open swim will immediately follow Friday’s 5 p.m. ribbon cutting, and will be free of charge for that day only. Pool memberships can be purchased at the YMCA (450 Washington Jackson Rd.).
Reach Duante Beddingfield at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @duanteb_RH.