Unique celebration planned to open Butler County’s newest aquatics center, if weather allows

Weather plays a role in many decisions and plans this time of year, and now it could affect the scheduled opening of the city’s new aquatics center.

the planned opening date has been May 25 since construction started last year, but the winter and spring weather has turned that date into a question mark rather than an exclamation point.

Activity was bustling at the site this past Tuesday when temperatures climbed near 80 degrees and bright sun shone down over Oxford. Originally, rain had been predicted for that day.

“Opening day is up in the air a lot,” said Oxford Parks and Recreation Director Casey Wooddell Tuesday morning. “I just learned an hour ago. We have to try to be realistic. If every day is like this, then we might be able to open, but it’s spring. We have several weeks of concrete left.”

While a possible delay is disappointing, Wooddell said he would prefer that to opening on partial service as work proceeds. If the facility is not ready by May 25, he said he would not anticipate completion too much beyond that date.

“Give it another week. We’ll see how it goes. More days like this might make us feel better about it,” he said.

Another factor is once construction is complete, there will be state and county inspections required.

The planned opening — whether May 25 or later — will be festive and packed with ceremonial firsts for the new pool.

There will be a ribbon-cutting ceremony followed by things like the first trip down the Lazy River, the first use of the diving board, the first to go down the slides, the first lap swims and others with representatives of Oxford Swimming and Diving Team, Miami University and the community designated to take part in them.

“We’ll get all the firsts out of the way. People are anxious to get them out of the way,” Wooddell said. “If we have to reschedule, I hope all the people we have lined up will be okay with the new date.”

A vintage 1860s-style baseball game is planned for the weekend of the opening, on Sunday, May 26, and that will be played regardless of the aquatic center opening. It is planned for the field adjacent to the pool but could move to another ball diamond in the Oxford Community Park if the pool opening is delayed.

The vintage game will pit a team of local players from the community, Miami and OPRD staff against the Cincinnati Redstockings team.

The concessions area of the facility is double the space at the old pool and air conditioned. The room has two windows, one facing the pool and the other on the outside toward the soccer fields so it can be used for events held there such as the recent soccer tournaments held in the park.

There is an office for pool manager Emily Sibcy and a meeting room which can be rented by groups or businesses. It also house the OPRD Summer Camp program giving the young participants access to the pool, indoor activities and the adjacent soccer fields.

“The room is air conditioned and convenient for business meetings or private events, like birthday parties,” Wooddell said.

The pool itself is highlighted by three brightly-colored slides.

A small red slide is for the youngest pool users. A wide green slide can be used by families wanting to go into the water together and a bright yellow twisting slide is also part of the facility and users of that one must be at least 48-inches tall.

The recreation director said the family slide is unusual.

A representative of the pool company, with them for more than 20 years, said he has never been asked for one, but Wooddell said it was an amenity planners wanted for the Oxford facility. There will be a separate competition pool so that the swim team can practice or host meets without having to close the main pool to the public, which had to be done at the old TRI property facility.

“You do not see a lot of family slides but we talked about it. We want to see families come out here,” he said. “I think people will like having competitions while they are over there.”

That main pool is zero entry, meaning users can just walk into the pool off the deck without stairs, which also means young children can go in as far as they — and parents — are comfortable.

The deck around the competition pool will have permanent bleachers installed for the audience at meets and a shelter will be added using a $25,000 grant from Butler Rural Electric Cooperative. That shelter space also will be available for rent for special occasions and will accommodate as many as 40 people.

Meanwhile, Wooddell is hoping for good weather this month and keeping to the planned opening May 25.

“Either way, it’s going to be great. It’s a big project, an important project. We want to do it right and not be partially open,” he said.

Demolition of the old pool is expected to begin in the next two to three weeks after a contract was recently signed with Oberson’s Landscape and Nursery.

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