County, YMCA officials launch joint project at May 14 ceremony
Henrico and YMCA of Greater Richmond officials joined friends and community supporters Wednesday, May 14 to break ground on the Henrico Aquatics Center, a first-of-its-kind facility for the county that will help address a Board of Supervisors’ initiative to “make Henrico drown-proof.”
The 21,000-square-foot facility will be built on 6 acres of county-owned property between the Eastern Henrico Recreation Center and the Health Department East Clinic on North Laburnum Avenue.
Fairfield District Supervisor Frank J. Thornton said he had “long dreamed of having a pool” in the eastern Henrico community.
“We couldn’t quite make it happen when we opened the Eastern Recreation Center eight years ago,” Thornton said. “However, I am excited and grateful to say that now is the time.
“The Henrico Aquatics Center is a shining example of what we can accomplish as a community when there’s a need,” he said.
Henrico is funding construction of the $10 million aquatics center, which will be built, managed and operated by the YMCA. Tim Joyce, president and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Richmond, noted the significance of the partnership between the two entities.
“Henrico’s leadership understands, as [the YMCA does], that the citizens of this community and in this county want to move together, as one, in making sure all individuals, children and families have the same access to the same quality opportunities,” Joyce said. “The Y, with the county, is committed to being barrier-free for all.”
The aquatics center will feature an eight-lane, 25-yard pool and a warm-water instructional pool with zero-depth entry. Other amenities include a family spray area, a waterslide, family locker rooms and retractable spectator seating.
The facility will offer the YMCA’s pool-based programs, Joyce said, including swim lessons for children and adults, aquatic exercise programs, special needs aquatic classes, rehabilitation services and family swim nights. The facility also will host practices and meets for county high school swim teams, youth summer camps and community groups.
Participation will be open to the public through means-based memberships, daily rates and open-swim opportunities.
The aquatics center will support an expansion of the YMCA’s Learn to Swim campaign, a partnership with area school systems to teach second grade students water safety tips and basic swimming techniques. Second graders at Henrico’s Title I schools would have the opportunity for free swim lessons through the program, Joyce said.
County Manager John A. Vithoulkas pointed to the Board of Supervisors’ initiative and noted the essential role the aquatics center will play.
“As a community, we are committed to making Henrico drown-proof,” Vithoulkas said. “We are going to teach our second graders to swim, just as we teach them to read and write.
“By working with the YMCA, we can achieve what might not otherwise be possible for our community.”
Site clearing is underway and construction is set to begin soon. The aquatics center is expected to open in early 2020.