Leaders from the Claudius Crozet Park board and their partners from the Piedmont YMCA held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the official opening of the dome over Crozet Pool Oct. 17. YMCA programming at the pool began the next day.
The dome rises 30 feet above the pool and has a spacious feel. The pool water temperature is maintained at 80 degrees and the air temperature under the dome stays at 85 degrees to prevent condensation from forming on the dome and then falling like rain inside. Sound is a little trapped under the dome, and the pool has the familiar acoustics of any indoor pool. The dome has a life expectancy of 15 to 20 years.
The fitness room has 12 exercise machines and a section of weight-training equipment. Group exercise classes are included in the membership fee, which also covers the Y’s “stay and play” child care program, which is available on weekday mornings and evenings. Two large TVs are suspended in front of the exercise machines. On the day of the ribbon cutting, one was tuned to CNN and the other to Fox News.
Visitors were invited to tour the locker rooms and check out the shower stalls.
Glass will be installed to enclose the passageway from the fitness and locker room building to the pool. The passageway will not be heated, but it will be protected from the weather.
“This picture symbolizes everybody coming together,” said former park board member Heidi Sonen, who headed the fund drive to pay for the dome. She was referring to the line-up behind the ribbon.
“One of the things that is so cool about Crozet is the community. This is a modern-day barn raising. Everybody came together to raise this and make it a reality. We like to think of it as a unique project. We’re a private park, but we’ve had help from the county and we have the partnership of the YMCA. It’s a joint venture of two nonprofits.”
“We couldn’t be happier with everything we’ve accomplished,” said Jessica Maslaney, the Y’s program director.
Piedmont YMCA board chair Kurt Krueger announced that the PARC [Crozet Park Aquatic and Recreation Center] now has 745 memberships amounting to more than 2,200 individuals. The Y had set out with the hope of reaching 500 memberships before the end of the year.
“This started in 2008 with folks with great vision,” said Krueger. He singled out Cynthia Simpson, Ann Mallek, Kelly Strickland, Eric Amtmann, Robbie Maupin and Denny Blank for special recognition. “This partnership is a shining example of what a community can do together with local government.”
Krueger pointed out that 1858 was the year that Claudius Crozet finished the Blue Ridge Tunnel and the year the YMCA formed in Charlottesville at the instigation of Paul Goodloe McIntire.
“This facility can supply positive, life-supporting services. Fitness is a means to an end, to building a better community,” said Krueger.
Western Albemarle High School swim team coach Dan Bledsoe said the dome has had a profound impact on the school’s swimmers. The team now practices from 6:30 to 8 a.m. every morning rather than driving to the north side of Charlottesville for practice that started at 8:30 at night, as it has for the last 10 years.
“A school bus picks the team up from the pool and takes them to Western,” said Bledsoe. “Their school day is over at 4 p.m. They can have a normal day. This is exciting for me as the coach. We have 22 kids in the water even before the season starts.” Having a dome also means that no one needs to be cut from the team, he said.
The WAHS girls swim and dive team has won the state championship for the past two years.
Barton Malow project manager Don Taylor and site supervisor Steve Taylor were also singled out for praise.
“They didn’t charge for a lot that went into this, upwards of $50,000,” said Eric Amtmann. “Phil Kirby of Barton Malow put his heart and soul in this project. He made it personal and he made things happen. There are 20 examples of situations where Barton Malow just made it happen.”
The pool will now be the site of a Swim for Life program that gives swimming lessons to children who can’t afford them. They will be brought in from local elementary schools. The idea is to “water-proof” the community. Drowning is a leading cause of death for children.
Soon after the dome was installed and the blower that keeps it inflated started running, residents along Hilltop Street began complaining of the noise.
Phil Best and Karl Pomeroy, representing the Crozet Lions Club, built a 16-foot, L-shaped foam wall around the blower equipment, donating 40 hours of labor. The wall is 10 feet high on the north side. The foam both absorbs sound and the wall also redirects it up rather than out.
“Complaints about the noise, especially the heater cycling, started immediately,” said Pomeroy. “This has certainly diminished it. It works pretty well. This was a very quick response for this problem.” Pomeroy said he expects a more decorative surface will be added to the wall for the summer season.