By TAYLOR HARTZ
Seven members of the YMCA took a plunge into the newly renovated pool on Wednesday morning, cutting the ribbon on the updated facility.
The lengthy construction project included improvements to the pool, deck and shower areas, new lighting and roof installations, more storage space, and an office for the aquatics director, among many other new features.
Members of the community gathered along the brand new observation decks for the project’s big reveal on Oct. 14, looking down on the pool from two fully climate controlled areas where families can now view swim meets and classes.
In addition to more aesthetically pleasing facilities and a comfortable viewing space, the club also updated the men’s and women’s locker rooms, which YMCA Board of Directors President Joe Eddy described as “in dire need of renovation,” and completed the installation of an elevator.
The elevator, said Eddy, was the highest priority.
“The mission [for an elevator] was accomplished, and this will remove a huge barrier for our mobility challenged members to use this pool” he said, offering attendees a chance to test out the new transportation between decks.
Amidst speeches thanking dozens of committee members for all of their hard work, Southington resident Priscilla Griffin, walking with two canes, took to the microphone to thank the YMCA for the new elevator.
“It really keeps me going,” said Griffin of the pool, adding that the new elevator will help her get too and from the pool without as much assistance form the staff.
After distributing plaque dedications on black and blue globes to many committee members, YMCA Executive Director John Myers shouted a resounding “Yeah!” into the crowd as he peered down at the finished project.
“This is not your parents’ pool,” said Myers. “This is not your grandparents’ pool. This is a pool for future generations.”
The director urged the crowd to remember that, whether it be many local children learning to swim, recreational swimmers who use the pool for health and wellness, or the high school teams who spend countless hours racing at the YMCA, the pool has had a huge impact on the community.
“What an incredible resource the pool has been and will be,” said Myers.
Both Myers and Eddy thanked their many teams and committees, along with Newfield Construction and AE Architects for all their work on the redesign.
“This was a real fight, and it was just amazing what these warriors did.” said Eddy.
Throughout the construction process, several donations to the pool allowed the YMCA to make the construction concept a reality.
“There were three gifts received that were game changers,” said Myers.
The project received $430,000 from the Main St. Foundation’s Henry and Leila Barnes Memorial Trust, which funded the elevator.
Meyers said the values at the YMCA and Main St. Foundation matched well and allowed the pool to become more accessible.
The foundation’s President and CEO Susan Sedecki said she hopes the elevator will be a “benefit for current and future generations.”
After calling on State Representatives Joe Aresimowicz (D-Conn.) and David Zoni (D-Conn.), to thank the State of Connecticut for a $900,000 donation, Meyers said the most “incredible boost from the campaign came quite out of nowhere.”
Jeff and Kim Fryer of Southington made the largest single pledge, along with a promise to match up to $200,000 in further donations.
Southington residents since 1993, the Fryers said they “wanted a way to make sure that the pool could be enjoyed by everybody.”
The Fryers have been members of the YMCA for 17 years, since their oldest son began swimming lessons in the “Daddy and Me” program at just six months old.
“It’s that family membership kind of thing,” said Kim Fryer.
“Its’ such a staple of the town,” added Jeff Fryer.
Meyers announced on Wednesday that the new facility will be called the Fryer Family Natatorium, in honor of their donations.
The Fryer’s took part in the ribbon cutting ceremony just before YMCA staffers took a celebratory leap into the new pool.
The pool remained open for recreational and sport use throughout the construction project, and the new facilities are already being enjoyed by the community.