For far too long, Sully has been the only magisterial district in Fairfax County without its own rec center. But in a little more than five months, that will no longer be the case.
Sixteen months have passed since the March 29, 2003 groundbreaking for the Cub Run Recreation Center in Chantilly and, since then, those responsible for its creation have been hard at work insuring that the final product will be something spectacular.
"We still have to finish construction, get staffing on board and get our programs put together," said Hal Strickland, Sully District representative on the county Park Authority. "But I'm excited because it appears that the rec center will be available to the public by the first of the year."
The $19.2 million, 94,000-square-foot facility is being built on 37.3 acres just north of Westfield High, bounded by Stonecroft Boulevard and Cub Run. It will house a 25-meter competitive pool, separate leisure pool with slides and other amenities, whirlpool/spa, weight training and cardiovascular fitness areas, multipurpose rooms and offices. (Future plans include a second 25-meter pool, as funding materializes).
"A lot of people are asking me, 'When is it gonna open?' so folks are looking forward to it," said Supervisor Michael R. Frey (R-Sully). "As the building goes up and progresses, anticipation is growing. It just becomes that much more real. I have no doubt that people are going to love it."
Entering on the top floor, patrons will be able to turn left into the fitness area or right into multipurpose rooms. Administrative offices for a staff of about 12 will also be there, as will two large meeting rooms — which can become three via a moveable wall. They'll hold 243 people total and may be used for community events, after-school activities and rec-center programs.
The nearly 10,000-square-foot fitness area will be twice the size of those in other county rec centers. Also planned is a full security system with video surveillance so both the building's interior and exterior may be monitored.
Outside will be 5,000 feet of trail, with a stream crossing, plus concrete walkways. The two-level building will have glass sides up to the roof so patrons may view the forested hillside. Native stone on the exterior walls will blend in with the rocks outside.
In 1994, the county School Board bought 159 acres in Westfields for $2.3 million and, the following year, the footprint for a recreation facility was made nearby. A 1998 park bond referendum provided most of the funding, with more money added later — including some from the 2002 park bond.
THEN WHEN the county Board of Supervisors purchased the 1,800-acre Hunter-Hacor tract — also in the vicinity of the rec center — it enabled the Park Authority to create a naturalist position for its new facility. As a result, local students will be able to take advantage of all the educational opportunities in the Cub Run Stream Valley.
But step one is to build the rec center and, so far, things are progressing on schedule. Zadmer Enterprises Inc. of Upper Marlboro, Md., is the primary contractor, and Chris Hoppe says they're doing a great job. An engineer with the Park Authority, Hoppe is the project manager for the rec center and, he said, "Zadmer does good work and is building a quality project."
Also involved is the Park Authority's John Lehman, who oversees all of that entity's design and construction projects. And administering and managing the rec center's design and construction is the county's Public Works staff. Said Strickland: "They're out there on a day-to-day basis, seeing what's happening, testing things and making sure everything's OK."
As of Friday, said Hoppe, much of the site work was complete, and the base asphalt for the parking lot had been laid. (The rec center will have 300 parking spaces). The building's exterior walls are at various stages of completion, but the front — including its masonry — is almost done. Hoppe said the pool-area walls will be done later because, currently, "that section provides [workmen] access to the lower level."
AND THEY'VE recently accomplished a major feat that will allow the rest of the work to go forward. "We just set the trusses that hold up the ceiling in the pool area," said Strickland. Added Lehman: "They span the width of the pool without having to use intermediate columns."
Because of the chlorine and humidity in the pool area, the trusses had to be specially treated to prevent corrosion and rust. Furthermore, said Hoppe, because they range in length from 80-110 feet — and weigh many tons — the trusses "had to be assembled and welded in place on site, in three pieces, and then put up by crane. It took three or four weeks."
"It's probably the last, big milestone we had to achieve," said Strickland. "Now we can build everything around them. We're glad to have that behind us; now we can put the roof on."
Also on the lower level, the locker rooms need to be completed, but the rough plumbing has been installed. "The major air ducts and water plumbing are in place," said Hoppe. "And the pool pumps are all set, waiting for a piping connection."
The rough shell of the competitive pool has already been poured. The leisure pool is waiting its turn — until after the huge crane that erected the trusses is removed from it.
Actually turning the aquatics area into reality is no small feat of engineering. "The water purity, the right humidity and the mechanics of that area are quite significant," said Strickland. "For example, the water in the leisure pool is warmer than in the competitive pool area."
The new Cub Run Rec Center can also claim bragging rights as having the only pool in a Fairfax County facility with a drowning-detection system. "It identifies if there's a problem and, through an alarm system, notifies the lifeguard," said Hoppe.
"SOMETIMES, PEOPLE drown because no one can see them," explained Strickland. "But if someone is under the water and is still, an alarm goes off. It's an early warning system that something's not proper." Added Hoppe: "It's very new technology, not widely available."
He said it would cost "at or above $100,000" to retrofit just one pool in the county's system. "But we planned for it here," said Strickland. "And if it proves worthwhile, we'll put it into our other pools."
However, said Hoppe, it'll be on a "funding available" basis. Meanwhile, said Strickland, "Our pools are safe, but this provides an increased safety measure."
Although the competitive and leisure pools will be adjacent to each other, a tall glass wall will separate them. "It's something unique to this rec center because none of our other rec centers have leisure pools," said Strickland. "We want it to be family-friendly, and the leisure-pool area is noisier and has higher humidity. But the competitive area needs a different environment."
Whereas boisterous children will be frolicking in their pool — and groups are even expected to have birthday parties there — the Park Authority wants each customer to have the best experience for themselves. So it's taking care to be as considerate of different entities' needs, as possible. That's why the glass, dividing wall is so important, said Hoppe: "You need quiet at the start of a competitive meet, so this wall will block out most of the noise."
The equipment in the leisure pool can be changed and updated, from time to time, with different slides and amenities to keep it fresh and attractive to the patrons. At the start, there'll be two slides. The taller, 30-foot one will be fully enclosed and will go outside the building and swirl around there before returning through the wall and into the splash-down area. The lower, 21-foot-high slide has an open tube which spins around and deposits children into the main body of the leisure pool.
The water is zero feet deep at entry and 18 inches deep in the section containing a play structure — like playground equipment for pools — with water jets, cannons and sprays. Where children re-enter the water after coming down the slides, the level will be 3 1/2 feet.
And because water in this pool will be warmer, said Hoppe, "It's good for younger children to play in and we could program water aerobics for the elderly there." There's also a "lazy river," with slow-moving water; children may float along in it on a tube, or just be pushed along by the movement.
"We tried to design the leisure pool to satisfy a wide age range," he explained. "The older teens should like the higher slide, as well as the 'Vortex' — with water continuously moving in a circle, faster than the lazy river, and spinning them around."
AS IF ALL that's not enough, there's also a warm-water spa/Jacuzzi with jets pushing out pumped water. But, joked Strickland, "No wine goes with it."
And all the amenities will meet current, handicap-accessible standards. For example, said Hoppe, "There's a wheelchair ramp [leading] into the deeper-water area of the leisure pool."
Since the Park Authority finds itself continually expanding the fitness areas in its other rec centers, this one is being built 9,500 square feet. And like the others, it'll have a FitLinx system helping users keep track of how long they've spent on the cardiovascular or strength-conditioning machines.
Currently, though, the emphasis is on construction. "They're focusing on getting the roof over the pools," said Hoppe. "They'll then pour the concrete deck around the competitive pool before they dig the hole for the leisure pool — although the footings for the play equipment are already there."
As things stand now, the closest rec center is Oak Marr in Vienna so, said Strickland, "This will allow people here to have their own facility with the most modern fitness equipment and a broad range of uses — with the leisure and competitive pools, meeting rooms and proximity to [Westfield] High School. We're looking forward to having this facility available to the citizens."