Saturday, January 02, 2010
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Roanoke Co.'s new Green Ridge Recreation Center: Making a big splash

Roanoke County residents and officials say they are excited about the newly open Green Ridge Recreation Center, which features an indoor water park, gym and walking track.

Children enjoy a water slide Friday at an open house for the Green Ridge Recreation Center in Roanoke County. An outdoor pool also has water slides.

Photos by Sam Dean | The Roanoke Times

Children enjoy a water slide Friday at an open house for the Green Ridge Recreation Center in Roanoke County. An outdoor pool also has water slides.

Instructor Anne Lavery demonstrates Zamba, a dance workout, at an open house Friday for the new Green Ridge Recreation Center.

Instructor Anne Lavery demonstrates Zamba, a dance workout, at an open house Friday for the new Green Ridge Recreation Center.

Jeff Ostrander and Casey, 2, check out the pool.

Jeff Ostrander and Casey, 2, check out the pool.

Roanoke County residents traded their coats and scarves for swimsuits and towels during the open house Friday for the new Green Ridge Recreation Center.

Never mind the snow that still sits outside the building. Inside, families were swimming, sliding and sightseeing at the center that features an indoor pool with a 15-foot water slide, a hot tub, two lap lanes and a children's water playground.

Residents got to check out the center's amenities for free during the open house activities that also included family games, tours of the building, live music, food, face painting and sand sculpting.

The center is 76,000 square feet and features a wellness center, walking track and a gymnasium. There's also an outdoor leisure pool with two three-story water slides and an aquatic playground that is anticipated to open in May.

Visitors and county officials said Friday that the center on Wood Haven Road is adding to the quality of life in the region and offers something for all ages to enjoy.

"Until you see it, you really can't get a feel of how awesome a facility it is," said Pete Haislip, director of Roanoke County's parks, recreation and tourism. "It's a dream come true."

Construction started on the $32 million building in June 2008.

Although there was excitement about the facility opening on Friday, the project has previously drawn concerns from some people in the community about the cost and whether the money spent on the center should have been saved or redirected elsewhere. The money spent was drawn from the sale of about $58 million in bonds, which also funded a new fire and rescue station and digital communications upgrade.

Board of supervisors Chairman Mike Altizer said in November, during the annual State of the County address, that the funds had to be used for the purpose for which they were sold and could not be redirected to ongoing operating costs.

Related

Previous coverage of the Green Ridge Rec Center

Altizer also said that the recreation center could attract young professionals to the region and help the region flourish.

Haislip said a goal is for the center to be affordable and accessible to county residents and others in the valley. Memberships are available at the facility, but visitors can also opt to pay a daily rate to check out the center.

Haislip said as of Friday there are more than 2,200 members.

Kimberly Smith and her family received a membership to the center as a Christmas gift, and she and her son, Jon, 10, were enjoying the indoor pool on Friday.

"I love it," Smith said about the center. "I think it was a long time coming."

Smith, who lives in the county, said she looks forward to the fitness classes at the center, while Jon said the water slide was his favorite feature.

"It's really fast and you don't know what's coming next," he said.

He also relaxed in the hot tub. "It's pretty cool that you can be sitting in a hot tub and seeing snow outside," he said.

Zack Blevins, who turns 10 today, also took a dip in the pool and a couple of trips down the water slide.

"I think it's really cool," Zack said.

Zack also is celebrating his birthday at the center with a party scheduled today in the party room near the pool that members or visitors can rent.

His mother, Cheri, said the center offers more than recreational and wellness opportunities. "It's bringing the community closer together," she said.

Butch Church, a member of the county's board of supervisors, was part of the open house crowd and said he loved seeing the excitement on people's faces as they toured the center. He also said he believes the amenities and programs offered will have a wide appeal.

"I'm so pumped up about this place," Church said. "I know it's going to be successful. We've got something for everybody."

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