That big splash today in downtown Elkhart?
Excitement built steadily over the last two years of construction and hundreds flocked to preview nights and open houses ahead of the opening Thursday, July 18, 2019.
At the “ribbon” cutting ceremony (actually it was banner of colorful pennants used at swimming pools) on Monday, July 15, leaders lauded the collaboration and public-private partnerships that made the $70 million, 170,000-square-foot aquatics center a reality.
Elkhart Health & Aquatics will include:
- A competition pool with seating for 1,200 spectators.
- Racquetball and squash courses.
- Exercise studios and a “fitness floor” for weights and exercise equipment.
- An indoor running track.
- A gym equipped for two full basketball courts or a number of other sports.
- A sports medicine and physical therapy clinic.
- A therapy pool, lap pool, and whirlpool.
“This is going to be a mecca,” one of the aquatics center visitors said Monday.
While memberships are being sold for the pool and fitness areas, there is considerable free public access to the facility. A community center, called The Commons,” takes up one end of the building and includes a large atrium, a separate meeting room, and a smaller library. Free public hours for the pool will be on Friday evenings and Sunday afternoons.
During a sneak peek for the media and various dignitaries Monday, Mayor Tim Neese said the aquatics center will make a positive difference in people’s lives on a daily basis. He added that the center’s opening will help Elkhart “take its place among the great American cities.”
“Investments like this one are critical to our city’s growth,” Neese said.
The center will be the home pool to both Elkhart Community Schools’ and Bethel University’s aquatics sports programs. Memberships are available, and programming will be available to the overall community, too.
The lion’s share of the project budget came from private investors, both individuals and businesses, combining with investments from the Community Foundation of Elkhart County, Beacon Health System and Elkhart Community Schools that helped leverage $9 million from the state of Indiana’s Regional Cities program. The project is the largest to have been completed from the Vibrant Communities Action Agenda that was built from community input in 2016.